Comparing Insanity In Hamlet And Frankenstein

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In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Ophelia descends into madness after losing her father. In her insanity, she loses reason and the ability to formulate cohesive ideas, her speech becoming “nothing” (4.5.9). Ophelia’s madness transforms her into a new person, “divided from herself and her fair judgment” (4.5.92). The breakdown of Ophelia’s character ends with her suicide, a complete succumbency to her insanity. Moreover, in Shakespeare’s play and in Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel Frankenstein, Hamlet and Frankenstein both fall into madness with complexity in the insanity of both characters. Shelley and Shakespeare consider juxtaposing views about the impact of solitude and human company upon one’s mental state. Moreover, Shakespeare and Shelley explore …show more content…

Critics often debate the genuineness of Hamlet’s madness around others. Literary critic, Tenny L. Davis writes, “We can not know truly whether Hamlet was mad or not. But we can describe his symptoms and define his psychosis.” Nevertheless, whether feigned or not, Hamlet displays his greatest madness in the company of others. With Polonius, Hamlet portrays a lack of intellectual sanity, expressing to him that the book he reads is mere “words, words, words,” (2.2.210). In his interaction with Ophelia before act two, he presents himself as mad through his actions, behavior that causes Ophelia to perceive him to be “loosèd out of hell” (Hamlet, 2.1.94). Numerous characters recognize Hamlet’s insanity, and many attempt to explain it; Hamlet’s mother speculates it is merely a result of “his father’s death and [her and Claudius’] o'erhasty marriage” (Hamlet, 2.2.60), while Polonius hypothesizes it to be a result of “hot love” (Hamlet, 2.2.141). The desire to explain the insanity demonstrates the strength of it as Hamlet presents it around others. However, in the solitude of his soliloquies, Hamlet reveals a greater clarity of mind, still possessing his intellectual reason. In his soliloquy in act 2 scene 2, Hamlet examines himself through the lens of the players in the play presented to him previously, and uses them to make a comment on his own cowardice. This soliloquy shows great self-awareness, but also reminds the reader of Hamlet as an academic, a character that can use the arts to learn about himself. Literary critic Joe Keeter asserts that Hamlet “employs drama to understand how to live in the world”, an action that only an intellectual character with their

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