Madness in Shakespeare's Hamlet



Madness may be ?mental incapacity caused by an unmentionable

injury.? Such wounds often are not easily perceived but may be

revealed in time of stress. Hamlet?s question, ?have you a

daughter??(Act II. Sc2 182) Polonius about the Prince?s emotional

state. What is hidden will surely be told to Cloudius by his adviser.

Laertes? search for revenge is sharper proof that madness in degrees

of publicity causes harm to the observers. Claudius promise ?no wind

of blame?(Act IV, Sc.7,66) once Laertes kills Hamlet; perhaps this is

what the uncle has sought all along for himself. Ophelia has a

unique, very powerful form of madness; she seems caught as a ?baker?s

daughter,"(Act IV, Sc. 5, 42) between memories of her father and

Hamlet who ought have spokedn to her of events on ?Valentine?s

day."(Act IV, Sc 5, 48) She is doubly hexed and the madness she has

infects the whole court. Once a person?s mental state has been

studied in public, there is no telling the injuries which may affect

the viewers.



Ever since the death of King Hamlet young Hamlet has been what

appeared to be in a state of madness. In a discussion between Hamlet

and Polonius Hamlet questions Polonius by asking him ?have you a

daughter.?(Act II, Sc.2, 182) In this discussion Hamlet shows antic

behavior towards Polonius by mocking him when Hamlet would usually

show great respect for him because of he age and heis high position in

the court. This sudden question to Polonius has caused Polonius to

believe that Hamlet has a form of love-sickness and that Polonius is

sure to tell Claudius of his condition. Hamlet also accuses Polonius

of being the ?Jephthah, judge of Israel,?(Act II,Sc.2, 399) meaning

that Polonius would put his country in front of his daughter. Hamlet

has now convinced Polonius that he is in a state of madness because he

knows that Polonius cares for his daughter very much and would never

put her second. By convincing Polonius that he has no consideration

for the well-being of others, Hamlet is then hoping that Polonius will

tell the court of his emotional madness.



Unlike Hamlet, Laertes has developed a different kind of

madness, a madness that is controlled by revenge. When Laertes is

talking to Claudius, Laertes gets so much revenge building up inside

him against Hamlet that Laertes now wants to ?cut his throat.?(Act

4,Sc.7,125) Laertes? behavior is caused by the sudden death of his

father who was without a due ceremony, and his sister who has been

driven mad, has contributed to the madness that is being built up

inside Laertes. This madness grows even stronger when Claudius

promises ?no wind of blame?(Act IV.Sc7,66) when Laertes kills Hamlet.

With Claudius being the puppet holder and Laertes being the puppet,

Claudius turns Laertes into a savage beast to avenge for his fathers'

death; perhaps this is what the Claudius has planned all along.

Laertes has a form of madness that is escalating because Laertes knows

that he has the capabilities and motivation to act on what he believes

on.



Ophelia has a unique form of madness unlike Hamlet?s and

Laertes? because it a mixture of love and hate. An example of hate

is when she sings about a ?baker's daughter.?(Act IV,Sc.5,42) Ophelia

is referring to the way her father used to treat her before the tragic

incident of his death. A love within her madness is when she speaks

about the events on ?Valentine?s day.?(Act IV, Sc.5,48) When Ophelia

speaks about Valentines day she is referring to the events of romance

that she was denied. Ophelia?s madness is brought on by her lack of

being able to demonstrate any maturity in trying to cope with her

losses and in return can only inflict her madness on the court.



By stating that Hamlet could have controlled his fraudulent

madness, he then had the capability of controlling his conscious mind

into acting traditional. Where Laertes was very influential by others

and had no real control over the mental state he was developing by the

sway of Claudius. Ophelia was the most innocent victim of all

because she was the side affect of everyone else?s actions and had no

idea that she was mentally disintegrating. It can be noticed that

within each of these three people there can be no reassurance on what

the affect they may have on others due