Comparing Hamlet And The Duchess Of Malfi

2373 Words May 7th, 2015 10 Pages
Compare the depictions of Madness in Hamlet and The Duchess of Malfi. What is the significance of madness in each play?

During the late sixteenth century, dramas an plays became a big role in entertainment and madness became one of the major themes, as Salkeld recognises that 'the use of madness as a metaphor for subversion became increasingly marked throughout the first half of the seventeenth century '. (Salkeld, 1994, pg.144)This madness created a spark within the Elizabethan era and caused social disorder and political disorder. However this madness became the main source of attraction in many dramas and plays. Shakespeare 's 'Hamlet ' and Webster 's 'The Duchess of Malfi ' are both plays about revenge.This essay examines in detail the concept of madness in 'Hamlet ' by William Shakespeare and 'The Duchess of Malfi ' by John Webster. I plan on paying particular attention to the characters Hamlet and Bosola. I chose to concentrate on Bosola because I believe he has the same characteristic as of a mad man, and specifically Hamlet. I will analyse their mental stability and ambiguity in the plays and find out what significance they have in the storyline.

Shakespeare 's tragedy is based on the issue of real madness versus pretend madness. Throughout the play, Hamlet has never clearly portrayed himself to be actually mad, as his madness started out as pretence. However, from his actions, his pretend madness was thought of being his real madness. It is as Lavender says,…
Open Document