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1. think about Hamlet relationship with Ophelia. Does he love her? Does he stop loving her? Did he ever love her? What evidence can you find in the play to support your opinion? 2. more
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Ask 5 separate Questions to leave room for Answers. - The Honey of His Music Vows

Hamlet was utterly sincere when he wrote (2,2,122):
Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
. . . .
I love thee best, O most best, believe it.

He "importuned [her] with love in honourable fashion . . . . and [gave] countenance to his speech . . . with almost all the holy vows of heaven." (1,3,114-118)

He would have given her all the vows of heaven if his father hadn't first led him to give a vow to Hell.

The Ghost said to Hamlet (1,5,17-26):
But that I am forbid
to tell the secrets of my prison-house
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
would harrow up thy soul . . .
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. list, list, o list!

So then the ghost went ahead and told the tale anyway and it drove Hamlet mad.

But in the closet scene, Hamlet was mute. Unlike his father, Hamlet refused to pass on the madness. He was loosed out of hell to speak of horrors, but he would not speak them to Ophelia.

Ophelia (2,1,85-92)
My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;
No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd,
Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle;
Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
to speak of horrors,--he comes before me.

Hamlet, who had once given Ophelia the honey of his music vows (3,1,169), was now silent. As Hamlet later said, "hell itself breathes out contagion to this world" (3,2,380-381), but with his silence Hamlet tried to protect Ophelia from that breath of contagion.

Laertes had warned Ophelia (1,3,16-30)

Perhaps he loves you now,
. . . . but you must fear,
His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
For he himself is subject to his birth:
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself . . .
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed; which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.

Hamlet, when he was himself, loved Ophelia. But then he erased himself from his own brain and there in the book and volume of his brain he wrote his warllike father's commandment (the voice of Denmark, sent from Hell to speak of horrors, to breathe contagion, unfolding the secrets of his prison-house that he was forbid to tell to mortal ears). Hamlet was from himself taken away (5,2,228).

Hamlet did not want to chain Ophelia to the monster he had become. He did not want to make her, like his mother, imperial jointress to this warlike state (1,2,9) and a breeder of sinners (3,1,132) - sinners like his warlike father, his murderous uncle, and his own anguished and divided self.


My website: Be All My Sins Remembered
Essays on motifs, symbolism, & themes in Hamlet.
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