In Lewis Carol’s, Alice in Wonderland, he tells of the meeting between two of his characters, Alice, and the Mad Hatter. Carol writes about the struggles the young girl Alice has with him due to the fact that he appears to be entirely crazy, though the question stands if there is some method to his madness. Playwright and actor, William Shakespeare, uses this controversial connection between real madness and loss in his play Hamlet, portrayed in his characters Hamlet, and his crazed actions towards his loved ones, in Ophelia and her reaction to the death of her father, and lastly, in his character Laertes and his quick, rash reaction to act upon his desire for revenge.
Of the only two female roles in Hamlet, Ophelia, exhibits the greatest symptoms of madness after the death of her father, Polonius. She falls into a strange state of mourning, where she is lost in her own little world and those who try are unable to make her re-aware of her surroundings. Usually a well put together woman, she now disregards her outward appearance, beginning to look disheveled and unkempt. Crazily and aimlessly, Ophelia mindlessly sings songs of love and loss. While speaking to Horatio, the King urges him to “Follow her close, give her good watch, I pray you.” (4. 5. 79) The importance of this quote shows that the royal court is very much concerned about Ophelia’s well being and state of mind. To do anything without supervision may cause harm to herself, so the King is sending Horatio to watch over her. Sadly, we soon find out that Ophelia ends up falling in the river and drowns. She had climbed onto a branch to hang garlands of wild flowers on the tree and fell off into the river. While floating, she continued to sing madly, and since she does not...
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The controversy of real madness versus feigned, and the connection between loss and madness, is detrimental to the plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The quickest take over of madness is exhibited in Hamlet’s love interest, Ophelia. The most important example of madness is shown in Hamlet after his meeting with the Ghost and his plot for revenge upon his uncle. The most unexpected example of madness is in Laertes who in a fit of rage loses all gentleman like qualities and almost upsets the kingdom. All of these characters add up to the idea that to lose someone a person cares about dearly, ultimately ends in losing one’s composure and going mad. If we take away anything from Shakespeare’s play, it should be that each of us should think over our decisions prior to making them to insure we don’t have the same fate as the characters stated above.
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