The Tragic Tale of Ophelia and Hamlet
The common problem of lack of communication has plagued couples since the beginning of time. The relationship Hamlet and Ophelia share in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, is no more immune to these human tendencies. Throughout the drama, many misunderstandings cloud their relationship. Unspoken problems and pressures within Ophelia’s and Hamlet’s private lives lead to overlooked, unnoticed love. For Hamlet, his bond with Ophelia pales in comparison to the weight of the les talionis obligation thrust upon his soul. Ophelia faces trouble of a different nature. Having been raised to be very obedient to her father and to let him think for her, she is coerced into pushing Hamlet away and not giving into her love. It is the very lack of communication of these personal dilemmas between Ophelia and Hamlet that ultimately leads to Ophelia’s untimely demise and brings Hamlet to the verge of hysteria.
In the beginning, Ophelia is first introduced as she is being warned by her brother, Laertes. He tells her to be wary of Hamlet, for his love for her may be short-lived and she is of unequal rank to him. Shortly afterward, Ophelia’s father, Polonius, joins in the crusade, but in a more forceful way. While treating her as if she was a child, he commands her to turn Hamlet away completely. After Ophelia tells him that Hamlet has expressed affection for her, Polonius replies, "Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl / Unsifted in such perilous circumstance" (1.4.94-95). Thus Ophelia is torn in two different directions—love for Hamlet and obedience toward her father. Since she has been trained since birth, the desires of her father push all other notions aside, and she replies as she often does, "I will obey, my lord" (1.4.129). Consequently she follows the instructions and denies Hamlet every semblance of love for him. She refuses even to talk to him. Meanwhile, Hamlet is just learning of his father’s vicious murder and of his uncle’s treachery. The ghost of Hamlet’s father comes one day to tell him that Claudius, his uncle, unknown to all, killed the late king. This strikes a very deep blow to Hamlet. Already torn apart in grief and anger over the fact that Claudius has married the queen within one month of the king’s death, these harsh realities put Hamlet at a very sensitive and troubling point in his life. What he needs most is trust and understanding from others. Thus when Ophelia turns away from him, he has no other choice but to accept the denial and let go of her, for he faces a much greater foe than lost love. Each struggling with inner turmoil, Hamlet and Ophelia, neither one knowing what the other is going through, are torn from each other.
The second major misunderstanding comes with Hamlet’s feigned madness. With the burden of killing the king and revenging his father weighing heavily on his soul, Hamlet tries to learn of his true friends. In examining Ophelia, he sees something in her...