One of the strongest relationships that is obvious to us if the platonic love of friendship and loyalty that is shared between Hamlet and Horatio. While emotions and relationships are constantly changing in the play, this is the only bond that remains untouched and unchallenged; at the end of the play Hamlet still considers him to be ‘family’.
Shakespeare immediately demonstrates the strength of their bond in Act I, Scene I when Horatio says, ‘Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder’. Horatio is the first to speak to the Ghost, this is because he is in a more superior position compared to the other sentinels that are present, therefore, demonstrating to the audience that he is a close friend of Hamlet’s. Shakespeare also provides us with another verification of the strong bond between Hamlet and Horatio when Horatio tries and fails to make contact with the Ghost. After recognizing the significance of what he has witnessed, it is Horatio that takes Hamlet into his confidence to tell him of what he has seen, ‘As I do live, my honoured lord, ‘tis true/ And we did think it writ down in our duty/ To let you know of it’. The language used demonstrates the great respect that Horatio has for Hamlet therefore again showing the indestructible connection between them.
Another of one of the most evident relationships in the play is that of which is between Hamlet and Ophelia. Shakespeare demonstrates this love in a very different way to that of Hamlet and Horatio. Shakespeare makes it extremely hard for the audience to come to a decision of Hamlet’s true feelings for Ophelia. We are torn between two possible translations for his love for her, Shakespeare presents Ophelia in a way that allows us to see her to have many traits which are of resemblance of the Queen. Therefore, this can be interpreted that Hamlet’s love for Ophelia are only reflections of his true love for his mother the Queen. The other possible translation is that Hamlet really does have true feelings for her and these are just masked by his focus to get revenge on Claudius for the murder of his father. Shakespeare maintains us questioning throughout the whole play and it is not until the final act in the funeral scene that Hamlet declares his true love for Ophelia, ‘ I loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum’. It is here that another of Shakespeare’s methods becomes clear, Shakespeare uses the theme of revenge to destruct the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet, despite the fact that he has just admitted his true love for her. Hamlet feels that he must remove himself from Ophelia in order to take swift action to revenge is father’s murder.
A relationship that is similar to that of Hamlet and Ophelia’s in the sense that the relationship is broken, is the one between Hamlet and his Mother the Queen. Shakespeare demonstrates this relationship in a way that allows the audience to know that Hamlet really does love his Mother but cannot forgive her for marrying her uncle so quickly after his father’s death and he feels that like Ophelia he must leave her behind in order to complete his revenge. In the presentation that Shakespeare gives of the two relationships that Hamlet is involved with, with his Mother and Ophelia, we get the feeling that Hamlet has lost all faith in women. The relationships are similar in the sense that that they are both eventually broken because of the revenge that he has to get for his father. As a result of this, this shows the ultimate true love for his father.
The three relationships described above could be interpreted as the main connections of love in the play however; Shakespeare also presents other minor relationships in the play. The next obvious would be the marriage of Gertrude and Polonius. Shakespeare’s presentation of their marriage is not typical in the sense that they are portrayed as madly in love. He keeps us questioning as to whether their marriage is due to genuine love. There are times in the play where Claudius seems to love Gertrude; however it is in the final act of the play that Claudius proves he does not and never did love Gertrude. When Gertrude picks up the poisoned goblet of wine, Claudius knows that she will die if he doesn’t do anything but his only words to prevent her from drinking the poison are, ‘Gertrude, do not drink’. From these words Shakespeare shows the true character of Claudius and that is that he did not love her enough to ruin her reputation to save her life. The way in which Shakespeare gives detail about their marriage is effective because similarly to Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship, he keeps us guessing throughout the play and the truth is not revealed until the final act.
Another minor relationship that shows elements of love is between Laertes and Polonius. Shakespeare demonstrated Polonius’ character to be devious and spying. His spying inhibition was what ultimately got him killed. One of Polonius’ first deceitful actions, was against his own son. Polonius hired a spy, Reynaldo, to go to France to spy n Laertes. Polonius even went as far as to tell Reynaldo to spread a few lies to get the truth about what Laertes was doing, ‘Your bait of falsehood takes this carp truth: and thus to we of wisdom and of reach, with windlasses and with assays of bias, by indirections find directions out’. Despite the devious and deceitful actions taken by Polonius, there was still love. The relationship Laertes and Polonius had with each other went beyond deceit. Laertes best shows his love for his father, by his reaction to his murder. Immediately after Laertes got the news that his father had been murdered, he was furious and demanded to know who killed him so he could get revenge, ‘How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with; to hell allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation: to this point I stand, that both the words I give to negligence, let come what comes; only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father’. The characters relationship is understated compared to others however Shakespeare successfully shows true love between them.
There are many relationships displayed by Shakespeare throughout the play and the main way in which these are demonstrated are by the other themes of the play. Love supports revenge as a theme because Hamlet sacrifices his love for Ophelia and his mother in order to pursue his revenge, primarily because of his love for his father. Hamlet is willing to pay the ultimate price of his own life as well as others in order to achieve his final revenge. It can be concluded that Hamlet does enjoy some degree of loving relationships with other characters although none so profound as the love he has for Horatio. The two strongest relationships Hamlet shares, outside of his relationship with Horatio, is the filial love for Queen Gertrude and his romantic love for Ophelia. Hamlet’s love for Queen Gertrude comes into question upon the death of his father and her marriage to King Claudius. Hamlet’s romantic love for Ophelia is in a constant state of flux and beyond his control. Shakespeare demonstrates Hamlet’s emotions to vary so much that it is this that allows the audience to question whether any of the loves are genuine and he does not reveal any of the ‘make of break’ until the final act. The only relationship that does not come into question is Hamlet and Horatio’s, their relationship is continual and never changes.