Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about the quest for revenge and the tragedies that become of it. One of the tragedies in the play involves the relationship of Hamlet and Ophelia. While secretly plotting to avenge his father's death, Hamlet fakes insanity as a diversion from his actual intentions. His random acts and wild manner towards Ophelia leave readers to question the validity of his love for Ophelia. Hamlet's love for Ophelia is put to the test as he struggles to reaffirm his faith in women while, at the same time, seek the truth behind his father's death. His obsession with the betrayal and deceit of his father leads him to set aside, then later doubt and question, his love for Ophelia. However, upon Ophelia's death, Hamlet realizes that his feelings towards Ophelia never changed and that he had always loved her.
Hamlet pretends to be insane throughout the play as he secretly plots to avenge his father's death. He carries out his mock insanity to the highest degree and even appears mad to the one person he cared for most, Ophelia. Although his actions towards Ophelia seem cruel and heartless, they help contribute to the believability of his insanity. Because of the well known love Hamlet has for Ophelia, it is logical that he must act mad towards her the most. Ophelia serves as the vehicle for Hamlet's insanity. Hamlet is smart and he knows he is constantly being watched. If Ophelia, his love, believes that he is insane, then everyone else would think so as well. .
Despite her love for Hamlet, Ophelia is also partly responsible for Hamlet's sudden change of attitude towards her. Ophelia is a weak and innocent character with no thoughts of her own. The only hint of Ophelia's personal voice is in her claims of love for Hamlet. However, even those claims are uncertain as she is easily affected by the thoughts of her brother, Laertes, and her father, Polonius. When her father asks her if she thinks Hamlet really loves her, she responds with: "I do not know, my lord, what I should think.