The Depiction Of Ophelia's Madness

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There are two approaches to what madness is: delusion and the behaviors that arise from it, and true knowledge that is merely beyond the comprehension of others. In Hamlet, madness plays a key role in the story, and while Hamlet’s madness is, for the most part, the focus of the play – he is after all the title character – Ophelia's sudden descent into madness is an interesting event. Ophelia’s madness shows itself through the perspective of others, but through her own words, she actually shows herself and her actions to be sane. Depictions of Ophelia’s madness and mad actions come from other characters’ accounts, as well as the transcriber, the editor, and even Shakespeare himself. In act 4, a Gentleman first describes Ophelia as “importunate,…show more content…
Ophelia’s first song compares love to a devoted religious pilgrim (4.5.28-31) and later uses personification to describe the end, the “death,” of love (4.5.34-37, 41, 43-45). The song uses a melodic rhythm as well as extensive nature diction and imagery to convey a sense of innocence regarding love, and pure sorrow regarding its loss. Her second song approaches the subject more directly in response to Claudius’ misinterpretation of her words. This song uses a form of less poetic diction and structure to give the song a more personal and story-like tone, and convey a more crude aspect of love and betrayal (4.5.53-60, 63-71). The two songs may seem unrelated, but they depict similar stories of a devoted love which is later broken, a metaphor for her relationship with Hamlet, and attempt to convey her knowledge and emotions to everyone. Ophelia’s third song is much different from the other two, but it connects through their shared intention to convey her emotional state and knowledge. The song uses almost entirely death related diction and imagery and a disconnected tone to display her sorrow/depressed/apathetic? emotional state at the loss of love: “will he not come again? … No, no, he is dead. / Go to thy deathbed. / He never will come again” (4.5.213-217). These songs relay Ophelia’s reasoning for her actions and the reasonable change in her emotional state as a result. She uses different means in each song to do this, but they clearly display a rational and coherent connection and train of

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