Madness By William Shakespeare 's Hamlet Essays

Madness By William Shakespeare 's Hamlet Essays

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In Shakespeare 's Hamlet, the word “madness” is used a total of 18 times. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “madness” can be defined as, “a state of severe mental illness; extremely foolish behavior resembling insanity”. Hamlet’s personal situation mirrors this exact definition because his whole family believes him to be insane or mad. “Madness” is also defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “a state of frenzied or chaotic activity”. This definition also directly relates to Hamlet because chaos is at the root of the whole play. In their anger all of the characters believe that they can control one another as well as the whole situation. They believe themselves to be infallible within “frenzied activity”. The notion of control is madness in itself, every scene where a character attempts to control anything ends in utter disaster due to their irrational thought and belief that they hold control over anything. The theme of control, or lack thereof, continues not just in the characters themselves but also within the audience. Shakespeare gives the illusion that Hamlet is feigning and planning his crazed acts; however, as the play progresses the audience is forced to question the stability of Hamlet’s mind. Madness is not the lack of control in a situation, that is the natural order of the world; rather madness is the belief of control over any situation.
Shakespeare demonstrates the madness of control on many occasions, all involving a character who believes they hold authority over a situation and Hamlet, however their “controlled situation” quickly turns into a state of “frenzied and chaotic activity”. In Act 3 Scene 4, the Queen calls Hamlet into her chambers to discuss her concern for his state of growing ...


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... kills a man, and, like a mad man, “from his mother’s closet hath he dragg’d him”(4.1.36). This irrational behavior leads to questions all of Hamlet’s behaviors. The audience loses sight of Hamlets mental stability and is left to question rather all of his actions are planned or if they are just the products of mad delusions.
In conclusion, it is shown that the notion of control is simply madness. Both the King and Queen constantly attempt to control every situation that they encounter. This holds true for a normal audience as well. In general an audience is in control of the information presented in a play or novel. They know the whole story therefor they understand the actions of the characters. Shakespeare takes this control away. This belief of control leads to the madness of complete chaos and to believe that control is possible is madness in itself.

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