Madness in Shakespeare\'s Hamlet

Madness may be “mental incapacity caused by an unmentionable
injury.” Such wounds often are not easily perceived but may be
revealed in time of stress. Hamlet’s question, “have you a
daughter?”(Act II. Sc2 182) Polonius about the Prince’s emotional
state. What is hidden will surely be told to Cloudius by his adviser.
Laertes’ search for revenge is sharper proof that madness in degrees
of publicity causes harm to the observers. Claudius promise “no wind
of blame”(Act IV, Sc.7,66) once Laertes kills Hamlet; perhaps this is
what the uncle has sought all along for himself. Ophelia has a
unique, very powerful form of madness; she seems caught as a “baker’s
daughter,"(Act IV, Sc. 5, 42) between memories of her father and
Hamlet who ought have spokedn to her of events on “Valentine’s
day."(Act IV, Sc 5, 48) She is doubly hexed and the madness she has
infects the whole court. Once a person’s mental state has been
studied in public, there is no telling the injuries which may affect
the viewers.

Ever since the death of King Hamlet young Hamlet has been what
appeared to be in a state of madness. In a discussion between Hamlet
and Polonius Hamlet questions Polonius by asking him “have you a
daughter.”(Act II, Sc.2, 182) In this discussion Hamlet shows antic
behavior towards Polonius by mocking him when Hamlet would usually
show great respect for him because of he age and heis high position in
the court. This sudden question to Polonius has caused Polonius to
believe that Hamlet has a form of love-sickness and that Polonius is
sure to tell Claudius of his condition. Hamlet also accuses Polonius
of being the “Jephthah, judge of Israel,”(Act II,Sc.2, 399) meaning
that Polonius would put his country in front of his daughter. Hamlet
has now convinced Polonius that he is in a state of madness because he
knows that Polonius cares for his daughter very much and would never
put her second. By convincing Polonius that he has no consideration
for the well-being of others, Hamlet is then hoping that Polonius will
tell the court of his emotional madness.

Unlike Hamlet, Laertes has developed a different kind of
madness, a madness that is controlled by revenge. When Laertes is
talking to Claudius, Laertes gets so much revenge building up inside
him against Hamlet that Laertes now wants to “cut his throat.”(Act
4,Sc.7,125) Laertes’ behavior is caused by the sudden death of his
father who was without a due ceremony, and his sister who has been
driven mad, has contributed to the madness that is being built up
inside Laertes. This madness grows even stronger when Claudius
promises “no wind of blame”(Act IV.Sc7,66) when Laertes kills Hamlet.
With Claudius being the puppet holder and Laertes being the puppet,
Claudius turns Laertes into a savage beast to avenge for his fathers\'
death; perhaps this is what the Claudius has planned all along.
Laertes has a form of madness that is escalating because Laertes knows
that he has the capabilities and motivation to act on what he believes
on.

Ophelia has a unique form of madness unlike Hamlet’s and
Laertes’ because it a mixture of love and hate. An example of hate
is when she sings about a “baker\'s daughter.”(Act IV,Sc.5,42) Ophelia
is referring to the way her father used to treat her before the tragic
incident of his death. A love within her madness is when she speaks
about the events on “Valentine’s day.”(Act IV, Sc.5,48) When Ophelia
speaks about Valentines day she is referring to the events of romance
that she was denied. Ophelia’s madness is brought on by her lack of
being able to demonstrate any maturity in trying to cope with her
losses and in return can only inflict her madness on the court.

By stating that Hamlet could have controlled his fraudulent
madness, he then had the capability of controlling his conscious mind
into acting traditional. Where Laertes was very influential by others
and had no real control over the mental state he was developing by the
sway of Claudius. Ophelia was the most innocent victim of all
because she was the side affect of everyone else’s actions and had no
idea that she was mentally disintegrating. It can be noticed that
within each