Shakespeare uses characters such as Ophelia and Hamlet to portray the multifaceted nature of the human mind. These are two characters who struggle with their feeling, thus, offending others in the process. Hamlet represents a young man who is troubled and attempts vengeance for following the circumstances of his father’s death. He also has to deal with the incestuous affiliation between his mum and uncle. He decides to pretend to be mad to pigskin his intentions. Someone would think that, under such circumstance, he would probably return Ophelia’s feelings for him. This draws numerous queries that demand answers. One, is Ophelia the prey of a culture that has created unbearable hopes for its women? Is Ophelia driven mad because she loves Hamlet? In what ways does Hamlet struggle with himself affects Ophelia? This paper attempts to respond to these queries by focusing on Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet, which could possibly have led to her demise.
Throughout the play, it is undoubtable that Ophelia loves Hamlet. As much as their relationship is engraved in darkness and probably rough times for both, they both love each other. Hamlet shows affection for Ophelia when he says, “I loved you once.” This statement clearly shows Hamlet’s love for Ophelia. There are several reasons to believe that they both feel the same for each other. For example when Ophelia converses with Polonius, which is their first dialogue; she tells him how hamlet has made a tender of affection to her (Shakespeare & Hapgood, 1999). This becomes clear when Polonius asks Ophelia regarding their relationship with Hamlet, and she replies that Hamlet said; he loves her. Ophelia believes Hamlet’s love for her. Nevertheless, her father is unhappy and asks her to stop being naïve to judge Hamlet’s sincerity. Although Ophelia pleads with her dad regarding what she should think, the father is very categorical that she needs not to think, but remain virgin.
Many women during Ophelia’s time were trained to be chattel to their men. They were taught servitude, needlecraft, and righteousness. Most women were not encouraged to think on their own. Ophelia faces challenges from her family and Hamlet because the man she loves accuses her of being a whore and should go to a nunnery. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Hamlet loved Ophelia so much, which is evident in (Act 5) when he says, “Forty thousand brothers, if you added all their love together, could not match mine.” This is revealed towards the closure of the play when Hamlet is getting ready to be like a sparrow and face his demise. Sometimes, the relationship gets sour when Hamlet calls Ophelia whore, stupid and fake woman (Shakespeare & Hapgood, 1999).
Ophelia’s reflection of her mother’s relationship with her father, she thinks that all womenfolk are weak, and only want sex. So, Hamlet makes similar assumptions with Ophelia. Hamlet also got angry with Ophelia since he thinks that she is her father’s whore. Nevertheless, it is true that Polonius hardly wanted his daughter to marry Hamlet because he wants power but Ophelia would become powerful than him after marrying Hamlet. She finally concurs with her father, and Hamlet is mad at the decision, and offers her the final chance. Hamlet becomes enraged with Ophelia after realizing that she agrees to everything her father says. Since this was the last chance but Ophelia squandered it too, she becomes insane as well (Shakespeare & Hapgood, 1999).
It eventually becomes clear that both Ophelia and Hamlet loved each other. Hamlet show his love for her at the funeral by yelling and cursing at her, and all was important was forgiveness. The truth is that Hamlet loved Ophelia, but his mother held his attention until it was too late to show Ophelia the true love he had for her. One hardly knows what he/she has until it is gone.
- Shakespeare, W., & Hapgood, R. (1999). Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.