The very definition of a pissing contest
occurs when Hamlet comes upon Laertes grieving over Ophelia and is offended. It is Hamlet's last ridiculous moment in the play, and the first thing he ever expresses any shame over (at least outside of a soliloquy - about this he actually admits to Horatio that he had gone too far). After this Hamlet is really quite heroic, assuming an acceptance of death that could be compared with our notion of the Zen philosophy of the samurai. But how does it show "love," really, his actions there? A shocking lack of grief over the death of Ophelia is covered up with absurd theatrics towards Laertes.
* * * * * * *
Or, is it love, anyway?
Teaching Hamlet as well as a number of short stories this summer, I am struck by the idealizing attitude toward love that is so different than some of its true results - statements such as "he didn't really
love her" made about Hamlet or most of the male characters in the stories we've read only reinforces my sense that we want love to be a more ennobling emotion than it probably is.