Ecstasy And Madness In Hamlet

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In Hamlet “it is only the meek, the dispirited, the altogether

spiritless who forgo ecstasy and madness”, as they are tied closely together, “ecstasy often

[standing] for … madness … and madness ecstasy” (Eissler 452). Ecstasy is observed to take the

place of madness when Hamlet’s accusations of the King are criticized as being “the very

coinage of [his] brain: this bodiless creation ecstasy is very cunning in”, Hamlet’s ecstasy, his

aggrandized rage contributing to his fanaticism, and his fanaticism to his rage (III.iv.138-140).

Hamlet’s irrationality also acts as “a means of relieving his surcharged feelings”, a way to

express his emotions without facing social ridicule, hidden behind the guise of lunacy

(“Hamlet”). Ophelia
…show more content…
The Ghost’s visitation is the catalyst that begins Hamlet’s downward spiral…show more content…
In Hamlet, madness serves to “convey the disillusion and despair that pervades the

characters, and leads them to rash and self-destructive acts” (Lidz 33). Hamlet’s despair drives

him to madness, which, in turn, drives him to decimating his relationships with his mother and

Ophelia, and ultimately, to death. Hamlet’s descent into insanity explores the “possible reasons

of degeneration of the human mind”, the idea that ultimate desolation, unwavering grief, may be

a driving force for developing insanity (Bali 84). Hamlet’s disparaging tendencies are a result of

the degeneration of his mind, an unpleasant side effect of his cavernous grief and longing for his

The influence of his madness is exemplified when Laertes does not, in the end, condemn

Hamlet for his, Ophelia’s, and Polonius’s deaths. The indication that “Hamlet does it not … his

madness” is what forces him to behave as he does, that “Hamlet is of the faction that is

wrong’d”; “his madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy” lends to the idea that lunacy is all-consuming

and that the ill cannot be condemned for acts committed while mentally unstable: their mania is

the true culprit (V.ii.232-238). Hamlet is driven to decimation by his madness, which forces
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