The Madness Of Hamlet And Ophelia

1296 Words Dec 18th, 2015 6 Pages
Ryan Deng
AP English Literature Period 6
11 December 2015
The Madness of Hamlet and Ophelia Psychotic behavior is prevalent in Shakespeare’s Hamlet as two of his characters, Hamlet and Ophelia, exhibit madness during the play. The play commences after Claudius killed King Hamlet, leaving him in purgatory. Hamlet, after discovering this fact, feigns madness, which he calls an “antic disposition” (1.5.192) in his plot for revenge to ultimately free his father. Ophelia, on the other hand, succumbs to madness after the death of her father Polonius and Hamlet’s rejection of her love. Both experience deaths within their families, which lead to a loss of identity because their identities are greatly shaped by their familial relationships. Hamlet is able to cope with his feigned madness, using it as a device to pursue his goal of avenging his father’s death; Ophelia, though, is unable to evade madness, trapped within her loss of identity as she possesses little control over her own life. Shakespeare uses Ophelia and Hamlet’s similar familial circumstances yet different expressions of madness to demonstrate that it is something caused by a loss of identity and control. Both Ophelia and Hamlet’s initial loss of identity are caused by the physical absence of their loved ones. Hamlet’s identity is shaped by his father, shown in his declaration that “[he] will wipe away all trivial fond records … [and] [his father’s] commandment all alone shall live/ Within the…
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