William Shakespeare 's Hamlet - Madness Essay

1161 Words Nov 16th, 2015 5 Pages
Madness is a common theme in many works of literature from the Elizabethan era. It is often confused with the work of the devil or love sickness. Due to the combination of widely accepted religious beliefs and the lack of understanding of mental illness, Hamlet’s madness is a defining factor in the storyline of William Shakespeare’s renowned play Hamlet. The theme of madness is first introduced in Act I. The tragic nature of Hamlet’s character becomes more and more apparent, as presented in Hamlet’s soliloquy in scene 2, “O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,/ Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,/ Or that the/ Everlasting had not fixed/ His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God,/ How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/ Seem to me all the uses of this world!” (1.2.129-134). Hamlet is talking to himself about his life and how he wishes to be able to kill himself, however it is against both the King’s and God’s laws. This is when the audience first realizes that Hamlet is potentially mentally unstable. As Hamlet gets closer to the truth of his father’s death, Claudius exploits Hamlet’s suicidal tendencies and melancholy nature to destroy what little credibility Hamlet has. Claudius begins to turn his mother, Gertrude, against him in order to solidify Claudius’ claim to the throne. This betrayal continues throughout Act II and the rest of the play. In Act II, Hamlet’s carries on his “woe is me” façade and begins to convince his love, Ophelia, that he is mentally…

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