Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.

(II.ii.204-205) - Polonius

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Madness In Relation To The Plot Of Hamlet

It is not hard to recognize that many characters in Hamlet become emotionally unstable and lose their rationality. The first character, Hamlet himself, loses his emotional stability with the death of his father and the quick remarriage of his mother, making preposterous claims that his mother, Gertrude did not love Hamlet’s father.

In the eyes of other characters, Hamlet appears to be in a state of madness, simply because he is not capable of withholding his emotions. This is obvious to Hamlet’s uncle, King Claudius, who recognizes that Hamlet has not been able to absorb his father’s death.
In addition, Hamlet questions others if they are able to see the ghostly figure at the starting of the play. Realizing that it was Hamlet’s father wanting his son to exert revenge on Claudius for his death, Hamlet is reluctant at first, because he cannot distinguish if the ghostly figure is real or fictional. It was only until when Hamlet noticed Claudius’ foul reaction to the reenactment of King Hamlet’s death that Hamlet was convinced that Claudius committed these horrible deeds.

Hamlet quickly develops a plot where he can cover his emotional distress and develop a plan where he can execute his vengeance for his father’s unnecessary death.
Blinded by emotion, Hamlet stabs the silhouette figure behind the curtain, assuming it was Claudius spying on him. Realizing that he had not killed the hopeful target, Hamlet shows no emotions towards the death of Polonius.

The death of Polonius ignited the madness in two other characters, Laertes and Ophelia.
Hamlet’s irrational actions sparked similar madness in Laertes: avenge the death of the murdered father. Unlike Hamlet, Laertes is not reluctant to hesitation, as he does not question who the real murderer is and seeks revenge immediately thereafter.

Ophelia on the other hand, could not bear the death of her father, resulting in her own death from suicide. Hamlet’s madness compared to Ophelia’s is very different. Hamlet’s madness is very similar to that of Laertes, madness in aggression and violence while Ophelia’s is more childish.

Hamlet’s strategic claims of madness prove to fail on his behalf, as he draws more attention rather than diverting away from him. Although he claims that he is not mad, the audience begins to see that the lie protecting Hamlet has begun to absorb him, slowly rendering him mad.

Madness as a whole plays a significant contribution to the plot of the story. As an initial lie to cover Hamlet’s emotional despair, Hamlet’s irrationality and desire for revenge causes him to act precariously, resulting in Polonius’ death. Hamlet’s Madness spread throughout the High Ranks of the state of Denmark, resulting in a struggle for power, while at the same time causing death to numerous victims.

Conclusively, madness has spread through the State of Denmark, resulting in various symptoms. While some manage to resist, others die of their illness.

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