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This conventional form of insanity can be directly attributed to the character of Ophelia.

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"Though I am not splentative and rash / Yet have I in me something dangerous (line 283; Act V Sc. i)." Madness, as seen in its conventional sense is most commonly associated with a loss of the ability to reason and think rationally. This conventional form of insanity can be directly attributed to the character of Ophelia. Ophelia grew up completely dependent on the overwhelming outside influences surrounding her and as a result, was unable to think independently for herself. Once these outside influences disappeared, Ophelia was unable to corralle her circumstances and therefore lost the ability function normally in her and society. Hamlet madness was developed under different circumstances from those of Ophelia. In contrast to Ophelia, Hamlet became mad through his overly developed rational. Through his intense intellectual interpretations, Hamlet exceeded his mental capacity. In essence, Ophelia's madness is a result of her lack of reason while Hamlets' results from his overly developed ability to reason. Ophelia is clearly a product of her environment. Carol Neely She has grown up without a mother and was ruled by the men around her. She has been brought up to accept orders and not form her own opinions. Her father and brother feel that it is their duty to dictate her "moral, intellectual, even psychological development"(Neely, 2) They remain blind to the torment and torture that she must go through. ...read more.


It has fostered her frustration and now can not contain her rage. According to the Shakesperean critic Robert M. Youngson, Hamlet suffered from a disease called Ganser syndrome. Ganser syndrome is composed of short-lived, florid, psychotic episodes. This behavior is a psychotic illness in which the affected person is pretending to be in a psychiatrically disabilitated state. This fained psychosis eventually transforms into a true state of insanity. This state of insanity takes over the person and their life turning them into the very person they were pretending to be. The underlying etilogical factor which causes Ganser syndrome is stress. Throughout this play Hamlet is torn with the stress of having to avenge his father's death, deal with the madness and eventual suicide of Ophelia, the marriage of his mother and his uncle and the inability to trust those he had held so close in the past. Youngson's analysis of Hamlet's behavior shows that his madness was not immediate but developed over time as he became more enthraled in the psychotic role he was playing. Similarly, the Shakespearean critic Northrop Frye believes that Hamlet's attempt to conceal his anger and frustration through feigning madness only resulted in his true madness. In suppressing his feelings under a mask of feigned insanity, Hamlet only achieves in becoming truly insane. Frye says, "After Hamlet learns the truth about how Claudius became king, he conceals his feelings under the disguise of madness..." ...read more.


(Neely) "The final difficulty of reading madness is that in the act of doing so, one dissociates oneself with it, and in either case becomes disqualified as an interpreter." Hamlet's madness can be compared, categorized and filed neatly away in any way that the reader sees fit but the resulting conclusion is tainted with one's personality. Shakespeare cleverly uses Ophelia as a standard for madness. He contrasts and dissects the two progressions of the mind into complete chaos but this alone isn't enough to substantiate Hamlet's unique insane identity. Even though as individuals, many of us strive for perfection, try to eliminate any faults or weaknesses that might hinder our goals and happiness, we can never truly succeed. Madness is simply an abnormality to what we consider a "healthy," mindset. One can not analyze it in comparison to different forms of the disorder because it is only a disorder because we choose to call it one. The only way to measure any progression of such an uncertain aspect of life is to base it upon yourself. Both Hamlet and Ophelia found a way to escape or confront their troubles and that is the only concrete fact. We can not pass judgment on their routes to this state but can only conclude that they have progressed to a higher state of being. They have both found a place where they can be content with what fait has dealt them and that alone is the best they could achieve. Eric Lee, Dennis Ponte, Max Chernets AP English December 18, 2002 HAMLET: MADNESS ...read more.

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