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Madness In Hamlet Analysis

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In the play, Hamlet, William Shakespeare reflects the common early modern beliefs and perspectives about madness by using the character development of the protagonist who feigns madness throughout the play. Given Hamlet 's status as a prince, current knowledge of madness during the time period, and the contrast of the different types of madness of other characters in the play, Elizabethan audiences would have found it plausible that Hamlet feigns madness as part of his plot to avenge his father 's death. This new historicist perspective steers the modern reader away from anachronistic psychological interpretations of the play. Hamlet’s status as a prince gives the character certain roles and expectations to fulfill, such as avenging his father’s…show more content…
Polonius claims that Hamlet “fell into a sadness, then into a fast… and, by this declension, into the madness wherein now he raves” (2.2.156-159). Ophelia’s rejection and Hamlet’s lust for Ophelia are the sole causes of his madness. Polonius expresses that this kind of madness is very common among others as well for “in [his] youth [he] suffered much extremity for love, very near this” (2.2.206-208). However, the play depicts Polonius as inept and foolish. By hastily concluding the cause of Hamlet’s madness without regarding other tumultuous events such as King Hamlet’s death or Claudius’ marriage, Polonius seems ignorant and less credible. Thus, the audience would be more inclined to believe that Hamlet’s madness is not…show more content…
Using the new historicist perspective, Elizabethan audiences would have believed Hamlet’s madness was feigned. The new historicist perspective is important to prevent an anachronistic psychological interpretation of the play. Authors are respondents to their time period in which they lived. The author’s intent and intentions can be understood by analyzing literature on the basis of historical and cultural backgrond. By understanding the perception of madness during Shakespeare’s time, the new historicist view prevents modern readers from making faulty interpretations by incorporating modern knowledge of mental illness, and thus tarnishing the author’s
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