The Triggers Of Madness: Hamlet Analysis

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The Triggers of Madness: Hamlet Analysis
In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, there are only two female characters—Ophelia and Gertrude. Both female characters are seen as frail and dependent on men; while, the male characters throughout Hamlet are depicted as independent beings that possess their own power. Hamlet’s interactions with Gertrude, his mother, and Ophelia, his love, are filled with mixed signals of his affections towards each of them. Though the women seem to be insignificant pawns in the world of Hamlet, they are essential to the method of his madness. Without Ophelia and Gertrude Hamlet’s plan of acting mad to seek vengeance for his deceased father would have faltered because it is with Ophelia and Gertrude that the actions of Hamlet
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Gertrude is a mature woman, while Ophelia—though mature, is assumed to be a developing teen that is “honest and fair” (3.1.7). But collectively as women, they succumb and bend at the very command of man: Gertrude to Claudius, Ophelia to Polonius. It can be argued that Hamlet’s madness is due to Ophelia and Gertrude’s inability to think for their selves. Ophelia is her father, Polonius’, trophy. Polonius uses Ophelia to tantalize Hamlet, as well as figure out whether or not Hamlet is truly “mad.” Polonius instructs Ophelia’s encounters with Hamlet, she confesses to her father that she does not “know what to think” and his response—“I shall teach you” (1.3.104-5). Hamlet is no fool, he is aware that affections of Ophelia are being manipulated by Polonius; thus, explaining why Hamlet felt no remorse when he unintentionally murdered Polonius. Because Ophelia is still young it is understandable that she honors and remains compliant to her fathers will, however this is not an excuse for Gertrude. “To us, Ophelia represents something very different. To outside observers, Ophelia is the epitome of goodness. Like Gertrude, young Ophelia is childlike and naive. But unlike Queen Gertrude, Ophelia has good reason to be unaware of the harsh realities of life”…show more content…
Ophelia and Gertrude are significant characters because it is their interactions with Hamlet that give the reader insight to Hamlet’s views and treatment of women—an indicator of his “madness.” Hamlet only seems mad when in the presence of his mother and Ophelia and this madness may be due to their hopelessness. There is an Ophelia complex, which many critics think Ophelia and Gertrude both experience. The Ophelia complex state that women are hopeless and succumb to the abuse of the patriarchal society they live in. Daphne Browning note, “The Ophelia complex not only represents repressed sexuality, but provides a critique of the same traumatic experiences it purports to represent” (Browning). Both Gertrude and Ophelia are weak due to their “divided loyalties” to different men (Findlay). These women’s weaknesses are Hamlet’s fuel for madness. Hamlet is aware of their divided loyalties. Both women throughout Hamlet act as lackey’s, informing Claudius and Polonius about the actions of Hamlet, even more reason for Hamlet to seem
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