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

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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.

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