Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Cause of Ophelia's Insanity


Length: 833 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Hamlet: The Cause of Ophelia's Insanity


        Shakespeare, through his intricate uses of symbolism and dramatic

irony, arranges a brilliantly detailed account of how Hamlet's mental

upheaval served as the driving force of Ophelia's  swelling insanity  and

imminent suicide.  He floods the early acts with an impending sense of

confusion within Ophelia, for her feelings toward hamlet greatly contrast

those of her brother and father.  Ophelia begins to willingly take heed of

her family's advice as the prince finds himself removed from a lucid

pattern of thought. However, because her feelings for him are genuine, this

serves only to exalt her mental strain.  In the height of Hamlet's

incoherent rage, he provides Ophelia with the ultimate medium for her

ensuing madness.  The murder of Polonius is the greatest among many factors

that were contributed by Hamlet to the somber fate of Ophelia.

 

        A prelude, composed of warnings from Polonius and Laertes, is

tactfully set up by Shakespeare during Ophelia's initial appearances in the

play, aiding in the preparation for her subsequent mental deterioration.

 

        Pol.

               What is between you?  Give me up the truth.

        Oph.

                He hath, ny lord, of late made many tenders

               Of his affection to me.

        Pol.

               Affection, puh!  You speak like a green girl

               Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.

               Do you believe his "tenders" as you call them?

        Oph.

               I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

                                              (I, iii, ln.107-113)

 

Ophelia openly professes her confusion.  Polonius' response is presented in

a manner which is clearly intended to sincerely disdain Hamlet before his

daughter, making obvious his opinion of their involvement.  His intent for

her actions, however, will merely magnify her confusion.  Ophelia concedes

that she is not aware of a solution with which to halt or even improve this

situation.  For this reason, no preventive measures are taken, only

allowing the situation to worsen.

 

        Hamlets mind grows more and more clouded as his goal becomes clear,

and in the midst of his pervading preoccupation, he pushes Ophelia to the

point of mental breakdown.  This notion appears in the second act, after

Ophelia first sees a deranged Hamlet.

 

        Oph.

               Lord Hamlet…

               …with a look so piteous in purport

               As if he had been loosed out of hell

               To speak of  horrors -he comes before me

        Pol.

               Mad for thy love?

        Oph.

                My lord I do not know

               But I truly do fear it.

                                               (II, I, ln. 87-97)

 

Her confusion has evolved into a state of dread, and this dread will begin

to penetrate her consciousness as it grows more and more intense.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Cause of Ophelia's Insanity." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Sep 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=17107>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay -        In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there are two characters that display qualities of insanity.  They are Hamlet and Ophelia.  Although they both appear to be mad at times, their downfall (or supposed downfall) is quite different.  Ophelia's crazed characteristics show up and intensify quite rapidly, until she is ultimately led to suicide.  Her madness seems definite, and it is never questioned.  The insanity or sanity of the main character is an arguable question.  The issue can be discussed both ways, with significant support to either theory....   [tags: GCSE Coursework Shakespeare Hamlet]
:: 4 Works Cited
1379 words
(3.9 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay - Hamlet - A Question of Madness      Hamlet's public persona is a facade he has created to carry out his ulterior motives. The outside world's perception of him as being mad is of his own design. Hamlet is deciding what he wants others to think about him. Polonius, a close confidant of the King, is the leading person responsible for the public's knowledge of Hamlet's madness. The idea that Hamlet is mad centers around the fact that he talks to the ghost of his dead father. He communicates with his dead father's ghost twice, in the presence of his friends and again in the presence of his mother....   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]
:: 3 Works Cited
963 words
(2.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Necessary Madness of Hamlet - The Necessary Madness of Hamlet        Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a complex play, filled with layers of meaning. These are often revealed through the madness of the characters and the theme of madness throughout the play. Although Hamlet and Ophelia are the only characters thought to be so afflicted, the reactions of other characters to this madness mirrors their own preoccupations.         When one refers to madness in Hamlet, most would think of Hamlet's madness, or at least that that he was pretending to possess....   [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet]
:: 1 Works Cited
1152 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Madness and Hamlet Essay - Madness and Hamlet Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare's most honored works and is a piece of literature, which has been studied in depth by many a scholar. The storyline of Hamlet follows a vein of madness that begins with Claudius' murdering King Hamlet and ending with the tragic killing of almost every main character. Many reasons have been proposed for the ultimate tragedy, which occurs at the conclusion of the play. It will be argued in this essay that madness is the cause of the eventual tragedy in Shakespeare's Hamlet....   [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet Essays] 915 words
(2.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Insanity within Hamlet Essay - Insanity within Hamlet         Let us explore in this essay the real or feigned madness of the hero in William Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Hamlet.   Critical opinion is divided on this question. A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy staunchly adheres to the belief that Hamlet would cease to be a tragic character if he were really mad at any time in the play (30). On the other hand, W. Thomas MacCary in Hamlet: A Guide to the Play maintains that the prince not only feigns insanity but also shows signs of true insanity:   Hamlet feigns madness but also shows signs of true madness) after his father’s death and his mother’s overhasty remarriage; Ophelia actually does go mad after he...   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]
:: 9 Works Cited
1894 words
(5.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Pretended Madness of Hamlet - The Pretended Madness of Hamlet Hamlet, knowing that he will get into difficulty, needs to feign madness for the purpose of carrying out his mission. He rehearses his pretended madnesss first with Ophelia, for even if he should fail there in his act of simulation, that failure will not cause him any real harm. The manifestations of insanity that Hamlet will show become predictable - a sure sign that it is a simulated and not a real insanity. When Hamlet is with a trustworthy friend, he is rational and symptom-free; as soon as those persons appear, however, whom he wants to convince that he is mad, he changes his behavior so as to implant different explanations in their minds for his notic...   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]
:: 1 Works Cited
431 words
(1.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Hamlet's Madness Essays - Hamlet's Madness `What is madness. Is someone mad merely because they are different, and do they in return see the same about the world. The dictionary defines madness as, “1. the state of being mad; insanity. 2. senseless folly. 3. frenzy; rage. 4. intense excitement or hilarity.” Though is there a difference between madness and wrath or rage. Was Hamlet mad, or was it one big act in order to give reason for his irrational actions and to keep his vengeful motives confidential....   [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet Essays] 794 words
(2.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's Hamlet - Observations of Madness Essay - Hamlet: Observations of Madness One of the most analyzed plays in existence is the tragedy Hamlet, with its recurring question: "Is Hamlet’s 'antic disposition' feigned or real?" In truth, this question can only be answered by observing the thoughts of the main characters in relation to the cause of Hamlet real or feigned madness. In the tragedy Hamlet, each of the main characters explains Hamlets madness in their own unique way. To discover the cause behind the madness of Hamlet, each character used their own ambitions, emotions and interpretations of past events....   [tags: Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare Hamlet]
:: 7 Works Cited
2623 words
(7.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay example - The Melancholy Hamlet         William Shakespeare’s tragic play Hamlet is an exercise in the study of melancholy. Let’s explore the in’s and out’s of this aspect of the drama in this essay.   Gunnar Boklund gives a reason for the highlighting of the melancholy aspect of the protagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in his essay “Judgment in Hamlet”:   In the tragedy of Hamlet Shakespeare does not concern himself with the question whether blood-revenge is justified or not; it is raised only once and very late by the protagonist (v,ii,63-70)and never seriously considered....   [tags: The Melancholy Hamlet]
:: 10 Works Cited
1968 words
(5.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about Sanity, Insanity, Madness? - William Shakespeare's Hamlet is Sane - Sanity, Insanity, Madness. - William Shakespeare's Hamlet is Sane In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the lead character, Prince Hamlet of Denmark, has been interpreted in numerous ways. Throughout the play Hamlet takes on different personas, making it hard define him as only one character type. Often when critics analyze the character of Hamlet, they question his sanity because of his ambiguity soon after he sees his father's ghost. What does it mean to be insane. The definition of the word "insane" says that the person must "exhibit serious and debilitating mental disorders." does Hamlet truly go insane, is his father's ghost just a figment of his tormented imagination, or is Hamlet a smart...   [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
2145 words
(6.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]

Related Searches




  Polonius

suggests that Hamlet may have fallen victim to "the very ecstasy of love".

Yet, Ophelia's response is peculiar in it's morbid tone, for if love is the

liable force, she displays no form of satisfaction for it's effect on

Hamlet.  During an encounter later in the story, he tells Ophelia,

 

        Ham.

               "…I did love you once

        Oph.

               Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so

        Ham.

               You should not have believed me, for virtue

               Cannot so (inoculate) our old stock but we shall

               Relish of it.  I loved you not.

        Oph.

               I was the more deceived

                …And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,

               That sucked the honey of his musicked vows…"

                                  (III, I, ln.125-130,169-170)

 

Again, her mind is twisted by Hamlets involuntary fraudulence.  His apathy

attacks and consumes her innocence, takes grip of her mind and ultimately

destroys her spirit.  In the above quote, she describes her opinion of

Hamlet's present character, that of an untruthful user.  Moreover, however,

she feels naïve, placing undue blame on herself and enlarging the gap

between herself and reality.

 

        As the impending tragedy becomes increasingly apparent, Ophelia is

finally and completely consumed by the delirium of her sick mind.  The most

significant factor in this event is Polonius' murder.  Her condition is

explained by the king after she makes it obvious.

 

        King.

                Thick, and unwholesome in thoughts and whispers.

                For good Polonius' death, and we have done but greenly

                poor Ophelia

               Divided from herself and her fair judgment.

                                           (IV,v, ln.81-85)

 

Ophelia who was once nearly flawless, now moments from suicide, has been

completely mentally shattered by Hamlet and has made it quite obvious.  He

was the fate of her father, and had apparently manipulated her quite

ruthlessly.   Her demise is inevitable, for her only love had hone mad and

methodically destroyed all that was her reality.  Shakespeare is distinct

in his portrayal of this downfall.

 

        The obvious becomes just that when the aim of the author is

discerned through the symbolic congruencies and events which precisely

outlined the tragic decline of Ophelia's character.  The author provides a

vast amount of foreshadowing in the early acts.  The tragic hero then drags

her into the same hell that is his personal realm.  He accomplishes this by

eliminating everything that had sustained her. Eventually, a the factors

developed, she was overwhelmed by these acts, a reality becomes nothing

more than an illusion, and she falls victim to the limits of her own mind.


Return to 123HelpMe.com