The lack of distinction between reality and appearance in drama creates conflict. William Shakespeare's Hamlet demonstrates a plethora of complications due to the conflict between reality and appearance. These complications strengthen the plot and add excitement to an otherwise simple play. Ophelia's cause of death, Claudius' seeming repentance for the murder of the king and dishonest ploys for popularity seem to be reality, but are actually misunderstandings which Shakespeare used to create conflict within Hamlet.
Hamlet's true love, Ophelia, worries constantly about Hamlet. She does not realize that Hamlet is only pretending to be mad to manipulate Claudius. His wavering displays of affection bewilder Ophelia, and when she discovers that her father has been killed, she succumbs to insanity. After a brief run-in with Claudius and Gertrude, Ophelia is found dead in the river. While the cause of death is unclear, suicide is the prevalent assumption. Hamlet's act left Ophelia lonely without hope for a relationship with him. Her self-doubt led to her death.
Hamlet's discretion concerning his plan to act crazy left Ophelia to believe that he really did not care for her. While discussing if he ever lover her, Ophelia declares that she thought Hamlet did at one time. To pursue his goal of fooling everyone into thinking he is mad, Hamlet replies,.
"You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot.
so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. .
I loved you not." (III, I, 117-119) .
His offensive statement destroys Ophelia's belief in his love and she begins to give up on Hamlet. What she didn't know is that Hamlet was truly in love with her. He simply could not show it and avenge his father's death at the same time.
After Polonius' death, Ophelia becomes increasingly lonely, and is driven to death, due in part to Hamlet's denial of any feelings for her.