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The Hamlet-Ophelia relationship plays a very important role in the development of the play, Hamlet. Their relationship constitutes several problems in this play. Hamlet is a genius in love. He shows himself hard almost cruel to Ophelia. Ophelia is weak and tried to deceive him. She is a soft, yielding creature, a loving soul but without the passion which gives strength. She does not in the least understand Hamlet's grief over his mother's behaviour.

Hamlet loves Ophelia very much. But Hamlet's mother's conduct has poisoned his whole imagination and pushed his love into the background. The real problem is his pouring abuse upon the unoffending Ophelia, and his using gross language towards her in the play scene. According to a famous critic, Hamlet shows the strange treatment of Ophelia because Hamlet overheard polonies saying to the King that he would 'lose' his daughter to Hamlet to find the key to Hamlet's madness. Having overheard Polonius's words, Hamlet describes Polonius as a pimp and refers to Ophelia as a prostitute.

According to some critics, Ophelia is not as innocent as she appears. She has already been seduced by Hamlet. To the possibility that she is pregnant when she drowned. But this evidence is not convincing. She drowned herself to escape the stigma of an illicit pregnancy. But the strongest argument against such an interpretation is afforded by Hamlet's references to her. Hamlet's curse in the nunnery scene would lose its point if Ophelia were really unchaste. 

Hamlet suspects Ophelia. He suspects that she is being used as a decoy. He tests her by asking where her father and when she tells a lie, he assumes that she is on the side of his enemy. After Hamlet is gone, Ophelia reveals the genuineness of her love and gives us the best picture of what Hamlet once used to be: "O, what a noble mind is here o' overthrown", etc. She feels shocked at Hamlet's madness. 

In the nunnery scene, Hamlet's speeches reflect some degree of his real opinions. They express once more his disgust at the frailty of women and at their hypocrisy. The killing of her father by the man she loves is the immediate cause of Ophelia's madness. Hamlet and Horatio do not know that the grave is being dug for Ophelia. When Laertes leaps into the grave Hamlet proclaims-
"I lov'd Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers Could not with all their quantity of love Make my sum. What will thou do for her?"
And he goes on to challenge Laertes to any kind of competition to prove that he loved Ophelia better. To sum up, we can say that both Hamlet and Ophelia loved each other but after her death, all his old love returns to him in a flood when he finds Laertes making a splendor show of his brotherly feeling.


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