There are few things stronger than the bond between father and son—it is so strong that it may even continue into the afterlife. In the first act of the play, Hamlet is reunited with his father’s ghost two months after his death. However, it is unclear whether the ghost is real. The ghost is certainly real to Hamlet, who tells him exactly what he wants to hear. The ghost confirms Hamlet’s suspicions that Claudius “...in the porches of [his] ear did pour/The leprous distilment...” (I.v. 70-71). He also tells Hamlet that he should kill Claudius to avenge his death. There is evidence that the ghost is real because Marcellus and Horatio both see it when Hamlet does. However, in the scene where Hamlet kills Polonius, Gertrude doesn’t see the ghost when Hamlet does. It is possible that the ghost is a just a manifestation of Hamlet’s thirst for revenge, but also equally possible that the ghost hides himself from his treacherous wife. The presence of the ghost exemplifies the curiosity of human interaction through Hamlet’s ability to immediately trust him. Hamlet chooses to believe the word of his father’s ghost rather than his living mother.
Throughout the play Hamlet constantly questions his mother’s morals both in her marriage to Claudius and her involvement in the late king’s murder. Gertrude does not speak to the motives behind her actions, which leaves the reader responsible for deciding whether she was involved in the plot to kill King Hamlet. In Hamlet’s meeting with the Ghost, he is told that Gertrude was not a part of the murder plot, but that she let “Denmark be a couch for luxury and damnéd incest” (I.v.89-90), which alludes to her infidelity. It appears that Gertrude is not in fact aware of the murder, and simply got over her late husband quickly in order to marry Claudius. However, before Hamlet stabs Polonius, Gertrude cries “What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? Help, ho” (III.iv. 26-27). If Gertrude thinks that Hamlet wants to kill her, it would be logical to assume that she had a part in killing the king and she believes that Hamlet has found out. After that, Hamlet accuses Gertrude of killing the king and marrying his brother (III.iv.34-35). Since the late King Hamlet says Gertrude was not involved, but Hamlet is convinced she is, there is no clear answer to whether or not she was an accomplice to murder. There is also no answer to why Gertrude would even betray her husband in the first place, but it ultimately leads to Hamlet’s mistrust of her and all women.
Hamlet and Ophelia treat each other’s hearts like toys, and it is unclear whether or not Hamlet’s feelings are genuine. The first time Ophelia is introduced, her brother berates her about her relationship with Hamlet. Laertes warns her “Perhaps he loves you now...but you must fear/His greatness weighed, his will is not his own” (I.iii. 17-20). Both he and Polonius advise her to stay away from the prince to avoid getting hurt because they think he will eventually choose his responsibilities to Denmark over her. Ophelia sticks up for herself by informing Polonius that Hamlet has sent kind words to her and has been very affectionate. However, the next time Hamlet and Ophelia meet in her chamber Hamlet acts very strangely. Ophelia thinks that it is because she has stopped answering his affections, but it is actually because he has seen the ghost of his father. In their next two encounters, Hamlet is both rude and disrespectful to Ophelia, telling her that she needs to go to a nunnery, telling her he never loved her, and making