Dec 3, 2008
Word Count: 1359
‘Madness’ used as Justification
Madness has become a revolutionary standard in literary work throughout the centuries. Shakespeare's Hamlet and Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote both contain characters that use madness to excuse their actions in their lives respectively. Hamlet, filled with vengeance, seeks justice for the unexplained sudden death of his father Hamlet Senior. Don Quixote, a knight that is entranced by tales of chivalry has decided to live his life devoted towards gaining honor through his encounters. Hamlet and Don Quixote alike share the character roles of convincing those around them that they have gone mad. Specifically, Hamlet utilizes the death of his father to excuse his unpredictable behaviors towards others, while Don Quixote and his squire Sancho travel in attempts to find honor in the name of his knightly title.
Hamlet is driven to portray madness due to the appearance of his fathers ghost. Based on the information that is known by the ghost's accusations, Hamlet forces Horatio to swear by his sword to "never speak of this and that you have learned" (Hamlet Act I, Scene V, 157) Driven to obsession by the unexplained death of his father, Hamlet attempts to convince the court that he is mad. He was acting so well, that often times he comes close to the verge of actual insanity. He reacts unpredictably and pompous, directly mocking those around him. Referring to Polonius as a 'fishmonger' (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II, 173), thereby convincing the official that Hamlet is indeed insane.
One of the things that help us examine Hamlet's uneasy personality is the way he acts towards Ophelia, he is often impulsive and contradicts his own intentions. Carrying over his prickly attitude toward his mother, (add to that the altered perception of women) his reaction is carried out towards his love Ophelia. He first declares that he loves...