Insanity / Madness
Ophelia's descent into madness.
Shakespeare, through his intricate uses of symbolism and dramatic irony, arranges a brilliantly detailed account of how Hamlet's mental upheaval served as the driving force of Ophelia's swelling insanity and imminent suicide. He floods the early acts with an impending sense of confusion within Ophelia, for her feelings toward hamlet greatly contrast those of her brother and father. Ophelia begins to willingly take heed of her family's advice as the prince finds himself removed from a lucid pattern of thought. However, because her feelings for him are genuine, this serves only to exalt her mental strain. In the height of Hamlet's incoherent rage, he provides Ophelia with the ultimate medium for her ensuing madness. The murder of Polonius is the greatest among many factors that were contributed by Hamlet to the somber fate of Ophelia. A prelude, composed of warnings from Polonius and Laertes, is tactfully set up by Shakespeare during Ophelia's inertial appearances in the play, aiding in the preparation for her subsequent mental deterioration.
-Pol. What is between you? Give me up the truth.
-Oph. He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.
-Pol. Affection, puh! You speak like a green girl Unsifted in such perilous circumstance. Do you believe his "tenders" as you call them?
-Oph. I do not know, my lord, what I should think.
(I, iii, ln.107-113)
Ophelia openly professes her confusion. Polonius' response is presented in a manner which is clearly intended to sincerely disdain Hamlet before his daughter, making obvious his opinion of their involvement. His intent for her actions, however, will merely magnify her confusion. Ophelia concedes that she is not aware of a solution with which to halt or even improve this situation. For this reason, no preventive measures are taken,...
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