Role Of Madness In Hamlet And Ophelia

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In the Shakespearian play ‘Hamlet’, the portrayal of madness is one of the driving themes, which widely affects all characters and the main plot. The representation of madness is not only complex, but was cleverly planned out, as the madness between the characters are linked. Because of how intricate the play was written, there is much speculation to be made. There is a debate in the audience over whether Hamlet was truly mad or not - something that will likely never get a definite answer as there are no official writings or explanations to exist. There is also some controversy about the play, concerning the portrayal of Ophelia and the sexist representation of her. The clever aspect of Shakespeare’s plays is that the madness afflicting just …show more content…
Hamlet’s madness is fuelled by a multitude of things, such as grief and anger, and most of all, revenge. Ophelia’s madness is triggered by loss, the loss of her beloved and her father, as well as the absence of her brother. However, despite the fact that they are both considered mad, Hamlet and Ophelia both handle their madness very differently. Hamlet is an almost text-book case of madness, his behaviour fitting almost all of the modern day criteria for insanity. He is irrational and prone to sudden and unexpected mood swings, among other things, whereas Ophelia, while still exhibiting signs of madness, is much calmer and acts more socially acceptable. Though her speech patterns have changed, they are not inconsistent like Hamlet’s are either.. When Claudius says "Madness in great ones must not unwatched go." (3.1.196) though he is speaking of Hamlet, it can also be applied to Ophelia. This shows his recognition of the fact that people who are mad have great influence and power, even more so for someone in Hamlet’s position, who is the crown …show more content…
Hamlet says “How strange or odd some’ver I bear myself, as perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on.” (1.5.170-173). He plans to act mad as part as his scheme for revenge, though Hamlet would have to be an extremely good actor to be able to act the way he did. His behaviour, mood swings and consistently irregular speech patterns show that he could truly be mad, as well as the fact that his moments of clarity become fewer and farther apart. As the play progresses, he starts to have very few times where he acts sane. There is speculation that at first, Hamlet did truly put on an act, but he later got so immersed in his act that he did truly become mad, which explains why his moments of clarity come very few and far apart in the later parts of the play. Hamlet’s madness does affect the plot of the play quite significantly, as if Hamlet had not been mad, many of the key events would not have occurred the way they had. Hamlet’s actions and behaviour are irrational, and though he spends much time agonising over his plans, they are poorly thought out. Had he been sane, his plans for revenge wouldn’t have been blinded and weak, and his thought process would have been much smoother, meaning that things would not have been so dramatic. His behaviour affects not only

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