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Essay on Theme of Madness Conveyed in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, one of the most evident and important themes is the theme of madness. The theme is apparent throughout the play, mainly through the actions and thoughts of Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes. Madness is defined as the quality or condition of mental illness or derangement (being insane). Madness is at the center of the conflicts and problems of the play and is conveyed through Shakespeare’s elaborate use of manipulation and parallels between Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes to contribute to Hamlet’s tragic character.
All examples of madness begin and end with death. Hamlet’s madness, or feign of madness begins with the death of Old Hamlet and seeing his ghost, and Ophelia’s madness begins with the death of her father Polonius. Laertes is another example of a character within the play who demonstrates the theme of madness. Laertes’ madness is also triggered by death. His madness becomes sudden and extreme with the thought of revenge at the death of his father, Polonius, and sister, Ophelia. Laertes goes mad with revenge because of all the lies and exaggerations that Claudius feeds him.In the end, their many forms of madness get the best of them, and results in their own deaths whether by another, or by their own hand.

One example of Hamlet’s madness is how he mocks Polonius. He would not do so normally because Polonius is older than he is so he would normally treat him with a certain amount of respect which he does not do following the sighting of the ghost of Old Hamlet. The Ghost tells Hamlet of his murder, and to test the truth of what he is told, Hamlet puts on “an antic disposition”. Hamlet manages to convince Polonius that he is inconsiderate of others, knowing that with seeing this odd change i...


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...r the reader to notice the parallels between them and the differences from everyone else. He also does this so that we can see the contribution it has on the characters. The madness of each individual is not itself realistic, but the idea that death, grievance, and revenge can drive someone to do things that seem to be mad or make them do things out of their nature.
Overall, we see that the theme of madness has a significant impact on the conflicts and overall development of the play as well as the characters themselves and is successfully conveyed. Shakespeare developed a theme that tied the many important emotions and ideas together to make the play what it is. He used Ophelia’s grief and love, Hamlet’s wit and ruminative nature to convey a theme that could be related to more the one character, and tie all of the conflicts and complications down to one cause.


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