Last updated: June 26, 2019
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Hamlet-Method In Madness Essay, Research Paper

Method in the Lunacy: Hamlet & # 8217 ; s Sanity Supported Through HisRelation to Ophelia and Edgar & # 8217 ; s Relation to Lear In both Hamlet and King Lear, Shakespeare incorporates a subject ofmadness with two characters: one truly mad, and one merely actingmad to function a motivation. The lunacy of Hamlet is frequentlydisputed. This paper argues that the contrapuntal character ineach drama, viz. Ophelia in Hamlet and Edgar in King Lear, actsas a equilibrating statement to the other character & # 8217 ; s madness orsanity. King Lear & # 8217 ; s more decisive differentiation between Lear & # 8217 ; sfrailty of head and Edgar & # 8217 ; s contrived lunacy plants to betterdefine the relationship between Ophelia & # 8217 ; s dislocation and Hamlet & # 8217 ; s & # 8221 ; north-north-west & # 8221 ; trade name of insanity. Both dramas offer a characteron each side of saneness, but in Hamlet the differentiation is non asclear as it is in King Lear. Using the more expressed relationshipin King Lear, one finds a better apprehension of the relationshipin Hamlet. While Shakespeare does non straight pit Ophelia & # 8217 ; s insanity ( orbreakdown ) against Hamlet & # 8217 ; s lunacy, there is alternatively a cleardefinitiveness in Ophelia & # 8217 ; s status and a clear uncertainness inHamlet & # 8217 ; s lunacy. Obviously, Hamlet & # 8217 ; s character offers moreevidence, while Ophelia & # 8217 ; s dislocation is speedy, but more conclusivein its preciseness. Shakespeare offers clear grounds indicating toHamlet & # 8217 ; s saneness get downing with the first scene of the play.Hamlet begins with guards whose chief importance in the drama is togive credibleness to the shade. If Hamlet were to see his male parent & # 8217 ; sghost in private, the statement for his lunacy would greatlyimprove. Yet, non one, but three work forces together witness the ghostbefore even believing to advise Hamlet. As Horatio says, being theonly of the guards to play a important function in the remainder of theplay, & # 8220 ; Before my God, I might non this believe / Without thesensible and true avouch / Of mine ain eyes. ( I.i.56-8 ) & # 8221 ; Horatio, who appears often throughout the drama, acts as anunquestionably sane alibi to Hamlet once more when bordering the Kingwith his reaction to the drama. That Hamlet speaks to the ghostalone detracts slightly from its credibleness, but all the work forces arewitness to the shade demanding they speak alone.Horatio offers an insightful warning: What if it tempts you toward the inundation, my Godhead, Or to thedreadful acme of the drop That beetles o & # 8217 ; er his base into thesea, And there presume some other atrocious signifier Which might depriveyour sovereignty of ground, And pull you into lunacy? Think ofit. ( I.iv.69-74 ) Horatio & # 8217 ; s remark may be where Hamlet gets the thought to utilize a pleaof insanity to work out his program. The of import fact is that theghost does non alter signifier, but instead remains as the King andspeaks to Hamlet rationally. There is besides good ground for theghost non to desire the guards to cognize what he tells Hamlet, as theplay could non continue as it does if the guards were to hear whatHamlet did. It is the shade of Hamlet & # 8217 ; s male parent who tells him, & # 8220 ; buthowsomever thou pursues this act, / Taint non thy head. ( I.v.84-5 ) & # 8221 ; Later, when Hamlet sees the shade once more in his female parents room, her astonishment at his lunacy is rather convincing. Yet one musttake into consideration the careful planning of the shade & # 8217 ; scredibility earlier in the drama. After his first meeting with the shade, Hamlet greets his friendscheerfully and Acts of the Apostless as if the intelligence is good instead than thedevastation it truly is. Horatio: What intelligence, my Godhead? Hamlet: O, fantastic! Horatio: Good my Godhead, tell it.Hamlet: No, you will uncover it. ( I.v.118-21 ) This is the first glance of Hamlet & # 8217 ; s ability and disposition tomanipulate his behaviour to accomplish consequence. Clearly Hamlet is notfeeling cheerful at this minute, but if he lets the guards knowthe badness of the intelligence, they might surmise its nature. Anotherinstance of Hamlet & # 8217 ; s behavior use is his meeting withOphelia while his uncle and Polonius are concealing behind a curtain.Hamlet & # 8217 ; s fondness for Ophelia has already been established inI.iii. , and his complete rejection of her and what has transpiredbetween them is clearly a fraud. Hamlet somehow suspects theeavesdroppers, merely as he guesses that Guildenstern andRosencrantz are sent by the King and Queen to oppugn him andinvestigate the cause of his supposed lunacy in II.ii. Hamlet & # 8217 ; s actions in the drama after run intoing the shade lead everyoneexcept Horatio to believe he is brainsick, yet that lunacy iscontinuously checked by an ever-present consciousness of actionwhich ne’er lets him lose control. For illustration, Hamlet questionshis behavior in his monologue at the terminal of II.ii, but aftercareful consideration decides to travel with his inherent aptitude and turn out tohimself without a uncertainty the King & # 8217 ; s guilt before continuing rashly.Even after the King & # 8217 ; s guilt is proven with Horatio as informant, Hamlet once more reflects and uses his better opinion in thesoliloquy at the terminal of III.ii. before seeing his female parent. Herecognizes his passionate feelings, but tells himself to & # 8220 ; talk

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stickers to her, but use none, & # 8221 ; as his male parent & # 8217 ; s shade instructed.Again, when in the King & # 8217 ; s chamber, Hamlet could execute themurder, but decides non to

in his better judgement to ensure thathe doesn’t go to heaven by dying while praying. As Hamlet tellsGuildenstern in II.ii., “I am but mad north-north-west: when thewind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” This statementreveals out-right Hamlet’s intent to fool people with his oddbehavior. This is after Polonius’ enlightened comment earlier inthe same scene, “though this be madness, yet there is methodin’t.” Compare the copious evidence against Hamlet’s madness with thecomplete lack of evidence for Ophelia’s sanity after her father’smurder. Her unquestionable insanity puts Hamlet’s veryquestionable madness in a more favorable light. In IV.v. she isquite obviously mad, and unlike Hamlet there seems to be no methodto her madness. All Ophelia can do after learning of her father’sdeath is sing. Indeed, Hamlet’s utter rejection of her combinedwith this is too much for her, and she doesn’t sing a mourningsong at the beginning of IV.v, but rather a happy love song.Later, when she meets with Leartes, she says to him:There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love,remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.Leartes: A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted. Thought and afflictions, passion, hell itself, She turns to favorand to prettiness. (IV.v.179-89) While the Queen tells Leartes that an “envious sliver” broke andflung Ophelia into the river wearing a headdress of wild-flowers(compare the mad Lear’s crown of weeds), the clowns in V.i.confirm the reader’s suspicion that she did not die soaccidentally: Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she willfully seeksher own salvation? (V.i.1-2) Here lies the water; good. Here stands the man; good. If the mango to this water and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, hegoes, mark you that. But if the water come to him and drown him,he drowns not himself; argal, he that is not guilty of his owndeath shortens not his own life. (15-20) Ophelia’s breakdown into madness and inability to deal with herfather’s death and Hamlet’s rejection is dealt with neatly andpunctually. There is little evidence against her madness, comparedto Hamlet’s intelligent plotting and use of witnesses to hisactions. Thus, by defining true madness in Ophelia, Shakespearesubtracts from the plausibility of Hamlet’s supposed insanity.Comparing the juxtaposition of insanity and questioned sanity inKing Lear reveals another use of this device by Shakespeare. InKing Lear the lines are drawn more distinctly between sanity andinsanity, allowing a sharper contrast between the play’s twoversions of madness. Edgar’s soliloquy in II.iii. communicates hisintent to act and dress as a mad beggar:… Whiles I may scapeI will preserve myself, and am bethought To take the basest andmost poorest shape That ever penury, in contempt of man, Broughtnear to beast. My face I’ll grime with filth, Blanket my loins,elf all my hairs in knots, And with presented nakedness outfaceThe winds and persecutions of the sky. (II.iii.5-12) There is no question of Edgar’s intent here, and when they seethis `Bedlam beggar’ in action, the audience is aware that it isEdgar and that he is not really insane. As in Hamlet, thecontrived madness is more spectacular than the true madness. Edgarchanges his voice, tears his clothes, and babbles on like agenuine lunatic seeming in contrivance more genuine than Lear, thegenuine maniac. Just as Ophelia’s breakdown is believable because of her father’sdeath and her rejection from Hamlet, Lear’s old age accounts forhis frailty of mind and rash, foolish decisions. The reader isgiven no motive for Lear to tear his clothes off like a ravingmaniac or wear a crown of weeds and babble like a fool other thanhis old age and incapability to deal with his inability to actrationally. He realizes after being told for most of the play thathe is being a fool that perhaps his advisors are right. Only atthis point, it has long been clear to the reader that his madnessis due to senility. In these two plays, Shakespeare uses the dimmer light of realityto expose the brighter light of contrivance. Hamlet and Edgar aredynamic, animated, and absurd in their madness, making Lear’s andOphelia’s true madness seem realistic rather than absurd. Hamletand Edgar both explicitly state the contrivance of their madness,while Lear and Ophelia do not. Further, Hamlet and Edgar both havemotive behind leading others to believe they are insane. Althoughboth are under severe pressure and emotional strain due to theirrespective situations in each play, they both show a remarkableamount of intelligent, conscious, and rational decision-making inefforts to resolve their situations. In this way, they are sharplycontrasted with the mad Lear and Ophelia, whose insanity is notquestioned by themselves or other characters in either play.Neither after displaying madness make any rational decisions thatwould lead the reader to believe in their sanity. Thus, theargument that Hamlet is truly mad refutes his ability to actrationally and discounts the dramatic device of Ophelia (as Learis to Edgar) as a contrapuntal example of true insanity.