Hamlet's Relationship With Ophelia

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Hamlet encounters Ophelia, his estranged lover, after mulling over his own melancholy during the first scene of Act III. It is the first time that Ophelia and Hamlet have seen each other since Hamlet frightened Ophelia by her intruding upon her privacy and barging into her closet while she was sewing. Neither party is particularly pleased to see one another and they are both vocal about their discontent. Their interaction revolves around honesty and its importance to Hamlet, drawing comparisons between his own honesty and the honesty of other characters such as Ophelia and Gertrude. It establishes tension between Hamlet’s values and his own actions and the appearance on one’s intentions versus the reality. Upon Hamlet meeting Ophelia, she…show more content…
He expands his criticisms to the point where they encompass all of humankind. He says that men are not not honest when he tells Ophelia, “You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it.” (3.1.111-119) and then reiterates this idea when he orders Ophelia to a nunnery and asks, “Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” (3.1.121-122). Hamlet not only thinks all men are immoral, but he thinks there should be no more of them. By wishing to end marriage and suggesting Ophelia go to a nunnery, he has wished that the human race would cease. Hamlet’s contempt of man’s virtuous nature goes beyond simply being frustrated by lies and deceit and he prefers there to be no man at all than for men to live in a false reality. As a whole, the significance of this encounter is elevated when he says this. It is less about Ophelia and more about a core value and belief that resides within in Hamlet, something that motivates and influences…show more content…
Is is known that Ophelia, to him, has become nothing because she was dishonest, but he lies to her blatantly and thereby he has defined himself as as worthless as she is. It is unclear what exactly he lies about, whether it was having loved her or not having loved her, but no matter the condition he has lied. He made her think one way when his feelings or intentions were quite the opposite. It seems that what he values and the way he acts are contradictory, and not just in this scene. His entire persona is that of a deceitful nature. The plan that Hamlet hatched in order avenge his father was to appear mad, trick people into thinking he had lost in mind since he believes it would assist him with his investigation of Claudius. Hamlet is not in denial of this, he describes, “I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in.” (3.1.122-126) So though it is ironic that Hamlet is so enraged about the dishonesty and disingenuity of those around him, he admittedly takes part in the illusions which repulse him so. From his own calculation, no one is worth believing or trusting, even people shown to be moral or ethical, concluding it is all just a front or mask of sorts. In Ophelia’s case is is a
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