A Study of Madness in Hamlet

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A Study of Madness in Hamlet

I think that one of the most poignant themes of Hamlet is the

presentation and importance of madness. We first see a glimpse of

madness with Hamlet who pretends to be mad, using it as a cunning mask

while he battles with his own mind and conscience over the idea of

revenge. There is also the character of Ophelia who turns mad with

grief when she hears of her father's death.

Although while Hamlet is holding up this pretence of madness he slowly

becomes drawn into a depression, which is so deep at some points it is

unclear whether he is insane or deeply depressed, I would not call

this depression madness in any way because the term madness is

something more obvious. It is a very blunt expression, which

automatically draws one to think so something very stereotypical;

similar to how Hamlet deliberately acts. Also there is no actual

evidence of Hamlet being insane. However insanity is considered to be

the loss of control of ones mind and acting against society. This is

almost irrelevant as the society where Hamlet exists is one that he

constantly is fighting to go against the normal behaviour because of

those in power and control.

Hamlet assumes madness as a device while in pursuit of revenge; an

aspect of the play I choose to question is whether Hamlet truly ever

is mad. In Act 1 Scene 2 during a gathering of the court after the

wedding of his mother and uncle we see Hamlet dressed in dark, sombre

clothes, which are unsuitable for the celebratory occasion. These

clothes indicate the state of mind Hamlet is in and his perception of

his mother and Claudius; they could also foreshadow his future


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...women were not meant to speak

out. It was not correct for a woman to talk openly and behave how

Ophelia was.

The society of Elsinore is very controlling and do not see insanity as

an illness but as a threat. The king sees Hamlet's madness as "turbulent

and dangerous". He suspects that his madness may be a pretence and

considers it to be more a depression but views Hamlet as a problem

because of what he may say or do, with no control over his mind. So

sends him away to England as an effort to control him and have him

killed, but we can see through Hamlet's escape Shakespeare uses this

to prove at this time he is not mad, he is simply clever. Hamlet has

managed to prove his sanity by escaping this fate left for him by his

uncle, this shows the state of mind of the prince has improved or was

never mad to start with.