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Relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia

The relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia is not a true love story. Instead, it seems to be the sort of relationship that everyone has long assumed and that has never developed to the degree others believe it has or perhaps wish it had. Gertrude expresses such a sentiment as she places flowers on Ophelia's grave: "Sweets to the sweet! Farewell./ I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife;/ I thought thy bridebed to have deck'd, sweet maid,/ And not have strew'd thy grave" (V.1.244-247). When Hamlet is feigning madness and wishes to tweak Laertes, he claims to have loved Ophelia, though his actions previously have not shown much love for her: "I lov'd Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/ Could not (with all their quantity of love)/ Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?" (V.1.280-282).

Laertes certainly does not see Hamlet as a lover for his sister and instead believes that Hamlet is only trifling with her, and he warns her of this:

For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,

Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood;

A violet in the youth of primy nature,

Forward, not permanent sweet, not lasting;

The perfume and suppliance of a minute;

Her father, Polonius, asks her openly what is between them, and she answers, "He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders/ Of his affection to me" (I.iii.109-110). Her father also warns her about Hamlet, but she states that Hamlet "hath importun'd me with love/ In honourable fashion" (I.iii.120-121).

However, Ophelia does not act like a lover toward Hamlet much of the time, and neither does Hamlet act as a lover toward her. He seems to be testing her resolve at times, but this becomes mixed with his intention to feign madness, something she does not understand until his actions and the death of her father drives her into madness. He acts out his claimed insanity when the idea of marriage is raised:

God hath given you one face, and you ma...

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Relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:57, February 21, 2017, from