How does Shakespeare present aspects of love in Hamlet?

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Michela Bailey

How does Shakespeare present aspects of love in Hamlet?

        Love is one of the most powerful themes in Hamlet, however, the relationships and demonstrations of love that we see, are only the subplot of the play. There are also other themes that are extremely prominent in Hamlet including: revenge, betrayal and madness. It is the superior force of revenge that fuels Hamlet’s love.

        When reading Hamlet the audience does become involved in a number of relationships involving Hamlet and the main characters supporting the play. The characters involved include: Hamlet (the Ghost) former King of Denmark, Horatio, Gertrude Queen of Denmark and Ophelia. All the relationships displayed are complex and encompass a wide range of emotions as the play advances, however, the theme of love is still threaded throughout the play. The theme takes on a number of faces which we observe through the relationships Hamlet experiences during the production. We see Hamlet’s filial love for his mother, Gertrude, and romantic love for Ophelia. However, it is Hamlet’s platonic bond with Horatio, his best friend that proves to be the strongest tie of all and commands the most attention as it relates to the theme of love.

        There are many ways that Shakespeare presents love but one of the main methods that allow us to understand all the different relationships in the play is, the way Shakespeare uses the other themes of the play to make us aware of all the characters liaison’s in the play. Shakespeare uses the theme of betrayal as a way of destructing the relationships between the characters. Therefore while we are always consumed and focused on the main plot of the play, Hamlet’s revenge on Claudius for killing his father the King of Denmark, we are also aware of the relationships that are taking place.

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        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 ...

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