Ophelia's Madness

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Ophelia’s mentality is seriously questionable when discussing Act 4, scene 5 of Hamlet. Her pronounced singing to Gertrude and Claudius cause them to question it, ‘How long hath she been thus?’ It could be argued that her mental state has always been delicate, from her first soliloquy and from her willingness to obey orders from her father and brother. However, in order to explore her mentality, I wanted to gather her singing and speech during Act 4, scene 5 and create a second soliloquy for Ophelia to say. In doing this, it enables me to explore in detail, her minds demise and her heartbroken state towards Gertrude’s son, Hamlet, of whom professed to love her then withdrew this exclamation. ‘You promised me to wed. So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun, An thou hadst not come to my bed.’ The singing indicates a childlike innocence for the character and although singing, her heartbreak is prominent, and the singing tells the audience that her mentality is on the brink. Mariah Gale’s performance is an outstanding representation. The scene is seen through a reflection in a broken mirror, no doubt foreshadowing Ophelia’s dooming prospects and her cracked mental state. Gale’s singing adds an almost supernatural element to the scene and, combining loud outbursts of anger, silly noises and faces, Gale perfectly presents to audience’s how love-struck-mad Ophelia is. Dancing merrily around the other characters and physically attacking King Claudius in a mad stupor; worry and sympathy for the weathered girl fills the scene and the rooms where it is being watched. Gale undresses herself in a bid to show Ophelia’s virginal state, for her a sad fact as she wished to wed Hamlet.

In preparation, although an effective and active way in portraying her mentality and heartbreak, I believe having Ophelia more melancholy and tearful is a better way in provoking a reaction for the audience. Having Ophelia physically restrained maybe in a blanket and belt to resemble a...
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