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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 of these three people there can be no reassurance on what 
the affect they may have on others due to their mental state in 
public.

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