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Essay about Theme of Madness Conveyed in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, one of the most evident and important themes is the theme of madness. The theme is apparent throughout the play, mainly through the actions and thoughts of Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes. Madness is defined as the quality or condition of mental illness or derangement (being insane). Madness is at the center of the conflicts and problems of the play and is conveyed through Shakespeare’s elaborate use of manipulation and parallels between Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes to contribute to Hamlet’s tragic character.
All examples of madness begin and end with death. Hamlet’s madness, or feign of madness begins with the death of Old Hamlet and seeing his ghost, and Ophelia’s madness begins with the death of her
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158-161). Claudius believes that whatever the reason for Hamlet’s madness, the end result or outcome will be dangerous. Polonius, however, believes that the reason Hamlet is acting so strangely is because he is madly in love with Ophelia. Because of Claudius’ fear of what Hamlet could do he decides that “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go” (3.1. 182-183) and sends Hamlet to England. Hamlet admits to others that he is mad, which would seem like something that someone who was actually mad would be unlikely to do because they wouldn’t want to bring attention to it. Hamlet wants to bring attention to the idea that he is mad because he wants it to be spread around so that it becomes a known fact. Hamlet says “How strange or odd some'er I bear myself / as I perchance hereafter shall think meet / to put an antic disposition on.” (1.5. 170-172) to show the reader that his madness isn’t real.
There is however evidence that Hamlet is actually mad. For example, Hamlet sees the ghost of his father when others do not, but this could also be seen as evidence to prove that he is not mad because there are others who did see the ghost as well. By using examples such as this, Shakespeare makes it difficult for the reader to distinguish Hamlet's actually insanity and feign of insanity if there even is one or
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