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Hamlet is a complex character. The evidence that he loved Ophelia has been identified above. The evidence that he didn't love her is also identified.

What do we make of the contradictions?

He has courted her, declared love, given her gifts, even Gertrude said she had hoped Ophelia would be Hamlet's wife. One thing that's clear about Hamlet is that he is sincere. His pretence of madness is a bizarre game; flippant yet deadly serious. Beneath it all he despises pretence, as evidenced by his mother's behaviour. So let's say he did love Ophelia sincerely.

The events of the beginning of the play have thrown him. He is depressed, mistrustful, in a state of shock, overwhelmed, in no state to gently court his sweet girlfriend.

The play is contradictory about Hamlet's age, but he behaves like an adolescent. He is shocked by his father's death and mother's remarriage - psychologically spot-on; the stuff that sends teenagers to councillors in profound distress. He doesn't trust his friends, but depends and clings to one special person - Horatio. He believes he is surrounded by tedious old fools; etc.

He can't cope with any female, and projects his disgust with Gertrude onto Ophelia, a sign of immaturity and inability to understand his own psyche. It is not totally unexpected that teenage boys who've been hurt once might be sour and vindictive to other girls.

In a moment of profound distress—Ophelia's funeral—his earlier feelings of love and guilt explode. He behaves in an uncontrolled way, an outburst of emotion that he can't contain.

Yes, of course Hamlet did love and still loves Ophelia. He is a wonderful, intelligent, tortured character. But he is also the immature lad that can't handle his emotions and hits out blindly at a vulnerable girlfriend and then feels guilt. 

Long before the era when psychology was invented intelligent playwrights depended on observation. That's what Shakespeare has done brilliantly.

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Yes - I think the play makes pretty clear that he does. Firstly, Polonius and Laertes have both heard that Hamlet has been chasing after Ophelia and counsel her to avoid his love - as he, as the heir to the throne, is way out of her social class and therefore not marriage material.

Polonius later reads us a love letter which provides pretty clear evidence that Hamlet is indeed passionately in love with Ophelia:

'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers;
I have not art to reckon my groans: but that
I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.
'Thine evermore most dear lady, whilst
this machine is to him, HAMLET.'

He is, admittedly, pretty horrible to her in the 'get thee to a nunnery' scene which in most texts follows the 'to be or not to be' soliloquy. But then, does he know that Claudius and Polonius are watching him? Is it all an act?

There's an interpretation which argues that Hamlet doesn't really know what he feels and is consumed by grief: Ophelia is simply collateral damage of the other events in his life. But I wouldn't go along with it. At her funeral, Hamlet cries out to Laertes, Ophelia's brother:

I loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum.

He loved Ophelia forty thousand times more than her brother did. Pretty clear, I'd say!

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Maybe he does.... Even though he treats her horridly, he may be reacting to his hatred of what he sees his mother doing, which he makes a symbol of the weakness of all women.  "Frailty, thy name is woman," he says.  His mother is so morally and psychologically weak that she must immediately attach herself to the first available man after King Hamlet's death.

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Based upon Hamlet's behavior, in my estimation, Hamlet could not possibly have truly loved Ophelia and treated her as he did.  His vitriolic speech in Act III, scene i, is certainly more than necessary when he demands, "Get thee to a nunnery!" and then irrationally accuses her, and all women, of the crimes his mother is guilty of.

After this vicious attack, he has the nerve to lay upon her lap and, while pretending love, continue to insult and berate her.

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Yes, I do believe the text shows Hamlet loved Ophelia.  There are four scenes that make this apparent for us.

In Act 2, scene 1, Ophelia tells her father, Polonius, that she fears Hamlet is "mad" for her love.  She describes how a distressed Hamlet came into her room, grabbed her by the wrist, backed away and just looked into her face, studying it before he slowly backed out of the room without looking back at the door. 

In Act 2, scene 2, Polonius tells Claudius and Gertrude that Hamlet is love-sick for Ophelia and cites a letter Hamlet wrote in which he calls Ophelia, "...the heavenly idol of my soul..." and a poem in which he says that he loves her.  

In Act 3, scene 1, Ophelia returns to Hamlet some letters and presents he wrote to her in which he professed his love for her. 

Finally, in Act 5, scene 1, Hamlet jumps into Ophelia's open grave and professes to Laertes and the others that he loved Ophelia more than 40,000 brothers.  So, yes, I do believe Hamlet loved Ophelia.

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It behooves us to delve a bit deeper into the scene between Hamlet and Ophelia near the end of Act III, Scene 1 because the word "love" is used in such explosive terms. Hamlet can be seen to use love as an actual weapon here against Ophelia (whether or not we believe Hamlet truly did show love toward Ophelia in the past, or whether it was her own delusion). Ophelia has admitted in the past that Hamlet did give her "many tenders of affection" and now admits that she thought Hamlet was in love with her because she says, "Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so." Now, knowing this, remember that Hamlet has vowed to "put an antic disposition on." How could Hamlet be doing this in these lines? In line 115, Hamlet proclaims, "I did love you once," but in line 119, Hamlet proclaims, "I loved you not." Now, is Hamlet doing a good job at acting crazy by proclaiming one thing and then proclaiming the polar opposite, or has Hamlet actually gone insane? It is up to the audience (and in some cases the director) to decide. Keep in mind, though, that Hamlet's reasoning for acting crazy was to figure out whether Claudius actually killed Hamlet's father and, if so, to avenge his death. One has to wonder what Ophelia has to do with this. Yes, Hamlet knows that Ophelia has agreed to follow her father's advice and not pursue a relationship with Hamlet anymore. Hamlet knows that Ophelia is, by obeying her father, kind of "spying" on him (and in the worst case scenario, betraying him). Does messing with this young girl's emotions bring Hamlet any closer to killing Claudius and avenging dad's death? Let's examine one more admission by Hamlet before deciding.

God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. . . Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad.

Is Hamlet simply calling Ophelia "two-faced"? In other words, is she acting one way to her father and another to Hamlet himself? Did this realization make Hamlet angry, or is Hamlet admitting his own insanity by suggesting that Ophelia's behavior has driven him "mad"? There is no right or wrong answer here. Either point can be proven. Scholars continue to disagree. One thing is for sure, however: this part of the text lends itself very well to the theme of appearance vs. reality.

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Hamlet often appears to be “mad” in the play. The question is whether he is doing it on purpose or doing to keep the queen and king guessing about his intentions and state of mind. At one point in the play, he appears to push Ophelia away, telling her that he does not love her, regardless of how she might have interpreted his intentions.

About all we really have to go on is Hamlet’s reaction to her death. When he sees Ophelia’s brother, Laertes, jump in Ophelia’s grave, he leaps in and begins to struggle with him. Hamlet says:

I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.

In other words, Hamlet says that he loved Ophelia much more than her brother could have. Is it true? I’m not sure that we can be certain one way or the other.

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In Hamlet, does Hamlet really love Ophelia?

Even Hamlet himself, in the course of the play, contradicts himself on this matter.  When Ophelia speaks to him early on, to give him his love tokens back, he tells her, "I loved you not"(III.i.120) right after telling her that "I loved you once" (III.i.116).  From this we can gather that he did love her at one time, but is claiming to not love her now.  It is hard to know whether to believe him though, since he potentially knows that her father, and the king and queen are listening in on this conversation.  The entire thing could be staged for their benefit, to throw them off.  After this he rants and raves about the fickle nature of women, and tells Ophelia to get to a nunnery; possibly an indirect hit at Hamlet's mother.

Later, at Ophelia's grave, Hamlet declares, "I loved Ophelia:  forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum" (V.i.292-4).  Here he claims to love her 40 times more than her brother does.  I tend to believe him more here; he is reacting freshly to her unexpected death.  Which makes it all the more tragic that he so harshly rejected her, contributing to her road to madness and death.

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In Hamlet, does Hamlet really love Ophelia?

I think that part of the reason that Hamlet does not love Ophelia is because of the character flaws revealed throughout the course of the drama.  A critical flaw, almost tragic, that Hamlet possesses is his propensity to allow his function to be smothered by surmise.  Simply put, Hamlet is incapable of taking action.  His consistency in the lack of decision in his actions would prevent him from being in love with Ophelia.  One of the themes that Shakespeare develops about love in the play is that it involves complete immersion and decisive commitment.  Few, if any, of the characters display this to one another, which might be why there is such a glaring lack of love present.  Hamlet is reflective of this as he seems to have one portion of his psyche immersed in one element of consciousness while the other portion is engaged in something else.  This divided and tortured psyche is revealed in Hamlet's actions towards Ophelia.  On one hand, he does need her love and loyalty, as he receives it from few others.  Yet, he cannot bring himself to committing himself to her love, constantly repelling her with insults and cruelty, actions that are barriers in experiencing the true essence of love to one another.

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In Hamlet, does Hamlet really love Ophelia?

Indeed he does.  It is out of love for her that he chooses not to involve her in what he must do to bring justice to Denmark.  He loves her but cannot see what possible good could come of it (especially for her) as he deals with his uncle and mother's treachery.  He would prefer that she get to a "nunnery" than to become lustful and sinful like his mother.  He knows that she is being manipulated by her father, Polonius, and it infuriates him.  Check out the following website to search for specific passages for evidence of Hamlet's love.  Of special note is the scene at Ophelia's burial.

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Does Hamlet really love Ophelia or is he toying with her affections?

From the beginning of the play, we see that Hamlet is not one to easily disguise the way he feels.  His melancholy over his father's death is obvious to everyone.  He tells Gertrude that he has "that within that 'passes show"  when she tells him to cast off his "nighted color."  In fact, Hamlet may decide to put an "antic disposition" on and fake madness after he sees the ghost in order to hide his intentions to avenge his father's death.  Hamlet may feel it necessary to take extreme measures to hide the way he feels.

And yet, if you study Hamlet's insane act carefully, you will find that the act itself is not entirely convincing.  He does little more than wittily and sarcastically reply to those around him--an act that only makes Claudius more suspicious. He has open disdain for Polonius; he reacts with anger and insults to the spying Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  In other words, he is not one to feign how he feels toward others, even when he is acting-- or trying to act.

How does this discussion relate to Ophelia?  I don't think Hamlet is one to deceive or mislead.  His love letters to Ophelia are eloquent in their simplicity.  It is Polonius and Laertes who doubt Hamlet's sincere love toward Ophelia, and they underestimate both Ophelia and her relationship to Hamlet.  Polonius reasons that all young men are deceivers of women, and Laertes reasons that Hamlet's "will is not his own," and that his marriage will be a political one.  Both are wrong in hindsight.  Gertrude, for instance, at Ophelia's grave expressed her wish that she might have been Hamlet's wife. Evidently, she thought that Ophelia was a suitable marriage partner for Hamlet. Clearly, Hamlet was serious about Ophelia.

His reactions to her throughout the play are those of a hurt and rejected lover.  Remember that she broke off the relationship with him first.  His anger toward her reveal his pain.  At her death, Hamlet is inconsolate, but afterwards, he is able to obtain a maturity as well as a fatalism that he has not had before.

Hamlet loved Ophelia deeply.  He cannot express his love to her--not because of his unwillingness to do so, but because her siding with her father who is Claudius' ally prevents him from attempting to mend this relationship.  There is nothing Hamlet can do when Ophelia willingly takes part in a plot to spy on Hamlet and turns over his love letters to her father.  What we see throughout the play is the suffering of two young people who if not for the failures of their elders would have had a chance at happiness together.

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Does Hamlet really love Ophelia or is he toying with her affections?

I would say that Hamlet does love Ophelia.  I would also say that she loves him.  In the end, I think that what ends up dooming their relationship and one another is that neither has the emotional strength to confess or speak this love to the other.  I think that this becomes one of the most dominant themes of the play.  In analyzing how one's function can be smothered by surmise, one sees this destructive tendency in the realm of love.  Both characters love one another, yet cannot bring one another to articulate this love.  They cannot clearly make a commitment to one another and speak of their feelings.  Rather, they operate under this "screen" of love, one that filters actions and sentiments through the veil of a lack of transparency.  I think that there might be a level of toying with Ophelia, but only when Hamlet is convinced that this screen, this veil, is reality.  In a prime example of his function being smothered by surmise, Hamlet functions with the lack of emotional strength needed to confess one's love to another, to risk rejection, to be able to speak a condition that is more independent than dependent.  In some senses, Shakespeare might be saying that to love someone is not "really about them," but rather about the individual who experiences the feeling.  Despite Hamlet's protests about being free and being independent, his failure to confess his love to Ophelia reflects the pinnacle of weakness and dependence.

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Does Hamlet really love Ophelia or is he toying with her affections?

After the question about Hamlet's madness, this is one of the most asked question about the play.  It does seem that Hamlet loved Ophelia, though a case can certainly be made for the other position. 

Ophelia seems to be wise and witty (as seen in her conversation with Laertes), so she would probably be appealing to Hamlet.  She has tokens, including letters, from him and he does attempt to distance her (protect her)  from his "madness." His need to exact revenge supercedes his love, at least for a time.

Their most famous (and perhaps most ambiguous) scene is in front of Claudius and Polonius.  Hamlet says, "I did love you once."  Ophelia's response is "Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so."  Hamlet has probably discerned that they're beeing watched and answers, "You should not have believed me..../I loved you not."  He then begs her to leave, to go to a nunnery, because he knows what may be ahead for both of them.

The most convincing evidence of his love for her is his reaction to her death.  Hamlet is visibly distraught and nearly inconsolable.  He declares to Laertes, "I loved Ophelia.  Forty thousand brothers/Could not with all their quantity of love/Make up my sum." He gains nothing if this is an act; it does seem as if his grief is evidence of his love. 

Perhaps Hamlet was toying with her, as both Polonius and Laertes suggest; however, it seems likely he did care for her more deeply than some passing fancy might suggest.  In his fashion, Hamlet probably loved her.

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Does Hamlet love Ophelia or not? Is he mad or not?

As the variety of answers to these two questions below demonstrate, there is no definite answer to either of them, and directors in the theatre, as well as readers of the play, have made convincing arguments in both directions.

Hamlet writes to Ophelia, that though she could doubt that 'the stars are fire' or that the 'sun doth move', she should never doubt that he loves her: and Ophelia later corroborates his claim by admitting that he made her believe that he loved her. But does he love her now?

Well, the place to look is the nunnery scene (Act 3, Scene 1) where Ophelia gives him some love-tokens (she calls them 'remembrances' - are they letters? jewellery?) back. Is he simply hurt and upset when he tells her he doesn't love her? Or does he really mean it? You can argue both ways.

As for Hamlet's madness, he warns his friends in Act 1, Scene 5, that

I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on

'Antic' means 'mad', and 'meet' means 'appropriate': so might we read Hamlet's 'madness' as completely 'pretend'? Certainly yes when he is mocking Polonius, with his 'words, words, words' - but what about when he murders Polonius? Are these the actions of a genuine madman? When he apologises to Laertes at shortly before their fight, it is 'Hamlet's madness' which Hamlet blames for Polonius' death. But is this just an excuse, another pretence?

You could - in both cases - convincingly argue both ways.

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Does Hamlet love Ophelia or not? Is he mad or not?

A little, and a little. ;-)By that I mean, he was very fond of her before this all happened. He might have thought it was love, and it was possible that it would turn into love…but it wasn't really love yet, or else he would have trusted her more (even if it cost him).Is he mad? He's so upset by loss, grief, and the need for revenge that he's a bit off-balance, but he's not really crazy. Angry, and under pressure, even haunted, but not crazy.

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Do you think Hamlet was in love with Ophelia?

The two previous answers are very well argued but I think you have to enter the usual caveat when considering any aspect of Hamlet's behaviour: to what extent can we believe what we are seeing and hearing? This is because, in the first place, Hamlet's mental state is open to question and, second, because he is such an actor. To me, Hamlet's treatment of Ophelia in the play is not indicative of strong love, whatever about his words, and even at her burial I find myself wondering whether this isn't just another act, something to out-Laertes Laertes with. The last point made in the robertwilliam answer above is key in my view: Hamlet may have been in love with Ophelia before the play begins (so to speak) but, for whatever reasons, that love has very much become secondary in his life when we see him on stage.

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Do you think Hamlet was in love with Ophelia?

Yes. In fact, most of the keys to this very complex relationship comes in the "To be or not to be" scene, Act 3, Scene 1.

Ophelia, remember, has been told by Polonius that she can't see Hamlet - though she admits that he has been making advances towards her. In that scene, though, she makes out that it's all been one-sided, when, in fact, it clearly hasn't. There has been a realtionship, as she reveals when she gives him back his love tokens, his "remembrances", which he claims he never gave her.

My honour'd lord, you know right well you did,
And with them words of so sweet breath compos'd
As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

How has he proved unkind? Is it because, since seeing the ghost, he hasn't seen her or spent any time with her - or called it off? Is it because she hasn't been anywhere near him? We're not sure. But, just as Hamlet becomes hugely, hysterically emotional at the graveyard scene, Ophelia seems to provoke or elicit a massive angry, emotional response from Hamlet even in this scene:

God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig, you amble, and you lisp; and nickname God's creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance.

There's a lot of baggage in this scene, and the language is charged and emotional. What specifically happened in the relationship is unclear and difficult to tease out of the text - there are lots of possibilities for interpretation. But one thing is clear:

HAMLET
I did love you once.

OPHELIA
Indeed my lord, you made me believe so.

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Do you think Hamlet was in love with Ophelia?

Hamlet was most certainly in love with Ophelia. Unfortunately, she is the victim of circumstance because Hamlet is sworn to avenge his father's murder and their former love is as past as his "former sanity" was. When Ophelia approaches Hamlet after the (3.1) soliloquy, he says "soft you now, the fair Ophelia,' and we hear a soft loving tone escape him. It is in the ensuing "nunnery" speech where he realizes she's a pawn for Polonius and Claudius, that marriages are delicate institutions, and the nature of existence: sin and the temptations of sin. This is why he gets so furious, because his former "love" seems betrayed. Furthermore, when Ophelia is buried, we have no reason to doubt that the hyperbolic protestations of love are not genuine.

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In Hamlet, consider whether or not Hamlet truly loves Ophelia, with specific reference to the text.

I believe that he really does, but just puts on a show that he doesn't, in order to throw people off.  Plus, he is reeling from the show of seeming infidelity from his mother and her "o'er-hasty marriage" to his uncle.  So, he might need a break in order to get over feeling bitter about women for a while.  Even Hamlet himself, in the course of the play, contradicts himself on this matter.  When Ophelia speaks to him early on, to give him his love tokens back, he tells her, "I loved you not"(III.i.120) right after telling her that "I loved you once" (III.i.116).  From this we can gather that he did love her at one time, but is claiming to not love her now.  It is hard to know whether to believe him though, since he potentially knows that her father, and the king and queen are listening in on this conversation.  The entire thing could be staged for their benefit, to throw them off.

But then, at Ophelia's grave, Hamlet declares,

"I loved Ophelia:  forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum" (V.i.292-4).

Here he claims to love her 40 times more than her brother does.  I tend to believe him more here; he is reacting freshly to her unexpected death.  Which makes it all the more tragic that he so harshly rejected her, contributing to her road to madness and death.  So, take what evidence you want from the play, but I feel that at his core, Hamlet truly did love Ophelia, even if he didn't want to.  His mourning at her grave seems sincere and intense, and that is what I am going to go with.  Good luck!

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Do you think Hamlet truly loves Ophelia? Answer with supporting quotations from Hamlet.

This is of course a very hotly debated topic, and it is important to consider the various arguments for and against. On the one hand, Hamlet can be seen as treating Ophelia shamefully. One of the best examples of this is in Act III scene 1 whene he says "Get thee to a nunnery" and curses her. This would indicate very strongly that he does in fact not love her. In addition, he is willing to make fun of her and taunt her after this outburst in Act III scene 2 during his play that he has organised. However, it is important to remember with these scenes that it could be that Hamlet is aware of how Ophelia is being used against him by Claudius, and that he is being watched constantly. Therefore, it could be that these events are carefully staged demonstrations for the benefit of Claudius to deliberately confuse him. Hamlet, as a man who has wedded himself inexorably to revenge, is forced to sacrifice everything, even his love for Ophelia, in order to pursue his purpose.

No stronger evidence can be found in the play of Hamlet's love for Ophelia than in Act V scene 1, when Hamlet realises that the identity of the person whose grave is being dug is actually Ophelia herself. Note what he says as he bursts in on the funeral ceremony:

I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
Here the audience is finally given the truth of what is really going on in Hamlet's heart and what he really feels, without any deception going on. In this moment of hideous realisation, Hamlet's honest feelings come to the fore and the audience realises after all that he loved Ophelia all along. This of course heightens the tragedy, as it is now to late for Hamlet to do anything about it, and he realises that it is at least partly the fault of his own that Ophelia died through his murder of her father.

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