Evidence of Madness in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Evidence of Madness in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The evidence of madness first appeared in act one scene one line 32, it says, “that if again this apparition come/ He may approve our eyes and speak to it.” The emergence of an apparition suggests that this play will deal with unusual events. Since in the real world people denied the exits of ghosts, the readers will have a chance to make a guess between “is the character mad?” and “is this a play about ghost?”

Then in act one scene 2 line 66, Claudius said, “how is it that the clouds still hang on you?” and line 68, “good Hamlet, cast they knighted color off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark” this provides evidence that Hamlet is a sad character, and usually sadness will drive people mad and crazy. Later on after Hamlet met the ghost of his father, he was convinced that Claudius killed his father. In act one scene five line 39 Horatio said, “These are but wild and whirling words, my lord”. People sensed that there is something going on with Hamlet and Hamlet is becoming mad. When readers think Hamlet might be shocked because of the ghost’s word, he explains, “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on”. Hamlet is going to pretend to be mad.

Madness is not only shown on Hamlet but also on Polonius. In act two scene one line 25, Polonius said to Reynaldo, “Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarreling, drabbing – you may go so far.” It is a crazy idea that Polonius is trying to know truth about Laertes by giving him rumors. Of course, there is a chance for Polonius to know the truth, but there will be a greater chance that people will choose to believe the rumor. If the second case happens, then Polonius will actually destroy Laertes’s reputation.

Then in act two scene 1 line 75, Ophelia’s word give readers some idea about why Hamlet wants to pretend mad. “Ma for they love?” “My lord, I do not know, but truly I do fear it.” Hamlet is acting made and trying to let other people think that he is mad because of his love toward Ophelia. If Claudius noticed Hamlet unusual behavior, Claudius might be suspicious and know that Hamlet, somehow, know the truth. This is a very smart move for Hamlet. But Hamlet’s decision also make possible of the madness of another character, Ophelia.

Although Ophelia listened to her father’s order and stopped any contact with Hamlet, the power of love is so strong that she might think of Hamlet every moment. Ophelia acted to be normal and curbed her feeling toward Hamlet. However, after a long time Ophelia might become desperate and want Hamlet to love her. What is at that time she found out Hamlet is just using her as a tool? As a result, this final disappointment might make Ophelia mad as well.

The function of madness
Madness is frequently used in Hamlet. Madness can function as a curtain that covers the face of evil. In act three scene 1 line 46, “We are oft to blame in this – ‘Tis too much proved – that with devotion’s visage and pious action we do sugar o’er that devil himself” then Claudius replied, “the harlot’s cheek, beautied with plast’ ring art, is not more ugly to the thing that helps it than is my deed to my most painted word.” Everyone is hind something, and Hamlet use madness to hide his hatred toward Claudius as well as his desire to kill Claudius.

We know that Hamlet is not really mad because he can still frequently speak and behave like a normal person. When Hamlet first met Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet was surprised, “My excellent good friends! How dost thou.” But quickly Hamlet realized his friends came here for a reason. As a result, he acted like mad again. With all of the crazy words Hamlet said to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet wanted to attract some attention from Claudius. The evidence of Hamlet not made can be also seen from act two scene two line 588, “I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play have by the very cunning of the scene been struck so to the soul that presently they have proclaimed their male factions” and “I will observe his looks; I’ll tent him to the quick. If ‘a do blench, I know my course.” Hamlet is thinking critically. He chose to gather some information before making the choice. He described himself as “ass” “whore” “villain”, but he is probably the only good character in the play. He is not sure if the ghost is real so he chose to make sure if he take action. The loss of father already makes Hamlet desperate, if he mistakenly kills Claudius, Hamlet will be the evil figure. When kindness meets evil, Hamlet stands on the kindness side.

However, there is also chance that Hamlet is really mad and lost his mind. The loss of his father makes him desperate, and when his mother married Claudius so shortly after his father’s funeral made him even worse. He was not sure if the words from the ghost really happened, or even the ghost is real. After all, he is still a young man that has some kindness left in the bottom of his heart, although the whole society is turning evil. “The spirit that I have seen may be the devil, and the devil hath power T’ assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps, out of my weakness and my melancholy, as he is very potent with such spirits, abuse me to damn me. I’ll have grounds more relative than this. The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”

From act one to act three, the use of madness is for characters to hide something. Everyone has two faces, the outside one and the inside one. “Hamlet” has been produced by different film companies with different version. They also use different techniques to portray the idea of madness. There is no absolute answer about who is really mad. Shakespeare is probably the only one we can ask.