In the play “Hamlet Prince of Denmark”,

In the play “Hamlet Prince of Denmark”, Shakespeare portrays many conflicts between characters. To mention a few, both are educated, care about Ophelia, and lose their fathers. Hamlet also relates to Fortinbras with the lost their fathers and is considered royalty of their respective lands.

In this short paper, I will focus more on how Shakespeare depicts Hamlet to Ophelia and how it provides contrast between the two principal characters. After King Hamlet first appears to his son in Act 1, it is apparent that Hamlet decided to put on madness as a calculated plot which he used while contemplating on how he should avenge Claudius for his fathers’ death; this strategy continues in the following acts. On the other hand during Act 4, we saw Ophelia transforming into a similar mental condition as Hamlet, after the death of her father, Polonius. Here, we see how Hamlet compares to Ophelia in terms of similarities. However, there are numerous noticeable differences between them. For the most part, Hamlet’s madness is man-made. In contrast, not much can be said about Ophelia’s madness except ingenuity.

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In the preceding scenes before finally losing her mind, Ophelia is being belittled by Hamlet. Shortly after this scene, Polonius is quote unquote accidentally killed by Hamlet. Later, Ophelia commits suicide, thus affirming true insanity as being more materialized since the act indicates mental instability. Overall, dichotomy of insanity in the play is employed by Shakespeare to highlight more dimensions to both characters. On one hand, Ophelia’s madness is genuinely the result of the tragic death of her father. On the other hand, more than what is visible to an outside point of view; Hamlet’s madness is the result of a rationalizing mind that in turn manipulates his behavior towards certain situations. There are certain critics who believe that Hamlet is mad, and his madness is very much real. Nineteenth century critics often stated that the death of his father, the hasty marriage of his mother, and the over throw of his royal hopes were all factors changing his mental well-being for the worst? Dr.

Raj, an author published in “The American Journal of insanity” made the statement: “The manner, of which Hamlet speaks of and to the ghost, while administrating the oath of secrecy to his friend, is something more than the reaction of a mind after experiencing extraordinary emotions.” According to critics there are definite signs of madness in the play. Some being his actions and behavior after meeting ghost, his demeanor while meeting with Ophelia, his pale face, his piteous look and eccentric behavior, his loss of mental balance after the success of Mouse Trap, and his emotional behavior at the funeral of Ophelia are the sure signs of his madness. Prof. Nicoll states in his book: “It is quite natural that the shocks to Hamlet’s inner nature should tend to destroy his sanity.” On the other hand, there are extreme critics who hold the view that Hamlet is not mad at all and his madness is feigned.


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