Madness And Madness In Hamlet

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Incest. Ghosts. Revenge. Death. Suicide. What do all these words have in common? They are all causes of madness in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Through history, there have been countless reports of “madness” as defined by either family or friends. Yet, what is the true definition? The dictionary definition of madness is, “the state of being mentally ill, especially severely,” but Shakespeare demonstrates something different through his play. The audience is thrown into the heart of Denmark, torn by turmoil and suspicion after the late King’s death. Hamlet then embarks on an emotional journey to avenge his father’s murder and restore peace, but at the same time wrecks havoc on his own mind. Unable to cope with his problems, he falls into madness. Hamlet’s lover, Ophelia, is also driven mad by the conflicting emotions eventually causing her to commit suicide in order to escape the dangerous political situation. There is a continuous theme of madness and the causes of such a state in both characters, but while each display multiple examples of their own madness, the causes and results of their madness are different for both. The madness that Shakespeare illustrates in his play, through both Ophelia and Hamlet, coincides with Oxford’s definitions of madness. While both have shown their madness through their actions and words the madness is different for each character, as are the causes and symptoms. An early example of madness arising from conflicting and extreme emotions is shown

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