What Does Hamlet Mean When He Refers to the “Pangs of Dispriz’d Love”?
Hamlet’s hurting love for Ophelia is described as having “pangs of dispriz’d affection.” That might also be a reference to how unfairly Hamlet’s father was killed.
It was unclear throughout the play whether Hamlet actually loved Ophelia because of the horrible things he did to her. Later on, it is revealed that Ophelia’s father Polonius was watching their conversation and was scheming to turn Ophelia against Hamlet. Knowing this, Hamlet made the decision to keep his emotions from Ophelia. Hamlet came to terms with his loss after her death. He lost out on a happy life with her because of his violence and manipulative behavior. Hamlet looked at his loved one’s lifeless body, troubled and heartbroken. Therefore, “pangs of dispriz’d love” or “pangs of hated love” refers to the discomfort or sadness from a painful breakup.
The term may also refer to the unjustly taken life of Hamlet’s father. He was bewildered, discouraged, and outraged when he learned that his father had been killed. The murderer could not be punished under the law.
Later, the Ghost came to see Hamlet to inform him that Claudius was responsible for his father’s murder. He made repeated attempts to exact revenge, but each time he stopped himself to consider the repercussions of his actions. Finally, his sorrow and suffering caused him to kill Claudius. The statement implies that if someone is treated unfairly, the law will not intervene on his behalf.