Is There "Method in Ophelia's Madness" as Well, or Is She Entirely Irrational?
“Her madness was attributed to the extremity of her emotions, which in such a frail person led to melancholy and eventual breakdown”. The character of Ophelia in Zieffirelli’s version is the personification of a young innocent girl. “Her innocence is mixed with intelligence, keen perception, and erotic awareness”.
He acted crazy to cover his plans of seeking revenge on Claudius, when talking to Polonius he acted completely mad, “For in the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion-Have you a daughter?”. Hamlet used much blabber, such as this, when talking to anyone close to Claudius. As the play went on his madness was more and more liable. He started becoming very irrational and distracted by his plans. When Ophelia gives Hamlets letters back he goes into a rage, yelling “Get thee to a nunnery.”(Hamlet (3.1.131) The most well known action Hamlet committed was when he stabbed Polonius in a rash decision, hoping it was Claudius, “O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!“. One thing that brought him one step closer to going mad was Ophelia’s death. Hamlet may have been acting in the beginning but by the end of his devious plan to avenge his father, he lost himself and actually caused himself to go mad. Ophelia was such an innocent character. She was young and naïve. Ophelia was faced with many dilemmas. She was in a relationship with Prince Hamlet, who was very distracted and eventually went mad himself. Ophelia’s madness started with an overbearing, over protective father. He controlled Ophelia and used her with out thinking of her feelings, “I must tell you, you do not understand yourself so clearly.
For instance, Shakespeare’s reflection of death and incest, gives us an opportunity to suppose that the play should not be studied by a young audience. It is obvious that “In Hamlet, the image of death is introduced from the very beginning” (Galita 2008, p. 29). Moreover, the language of an English playwright’s work is rather complicated; so, one can still fail to understand the essence of the author’s speech. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that the tragedy gives young readers an opportunity to develop critical thinking, “being able to better understand Shakespeare’s language, and hopefully coming to at least appreciate some of his other works because of the knowledge gained from this unit” (Waldo 2008, p. 10). Unfortunately, most of Shakespeare’s works are associated with negative connotations, as students cannot define the point of the plays.Ophelia’s affection reflects her position of a woman, who belongs to the noble class. Taking into account her conversation with the queen and the king, one can understand her inner nature. She is honest, and innocent. Ophelia’s worldview is reflected in the language she speaks. There is a need to state that Ophelia’s descriptions have a symbolic meaning. Thus, she seems to represent an opposite side of a patriarchic community, and she is opposed to other characters who possess power. To my mind, Ophelia’s loss of identity is considered to be the key issue of the fourth Act.
Her behavior frightens Gertrude to such a degree that she originally refuses to see Ophelia. Gertrude herself says that, "...her speech is nothing/ Yet the unshaped use of it doth move/ The hearers to collection; they aim at it/ And botch the words to fit their own thoughts." Neither Gertrude nor Claudius, who witnessed the outburst of song and rhyme, believe that in her madness Ophelia can say anything that would make sense in its purest form, but that it exactly what Ophelia does. She details the intimacies of her relationship with Hamlet, saying in her song that she lost her virginity to him, and after she had given herself to him he refused to marry her.
Carroll, J. 2010, ‘Intentional Meaning in Hamlet: An Evolutionary Perspective,’ University of Missouri–St. Louis, pp. 230-260. Web.
‘Compare Ophelia’s madness with Hamlet’s madness or feigned madness’, n. d., Unc. edu. Web.
Dane, G. 1998, ‘Reading Ophelia’s Madness’, Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, pp. 405-23.
Fredson, B. 1966, ‘Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy 1587-1642’, Princeton: Princeton UP, pp. 1-2.
Galita, R. 2008, ‘Imagery of Death in Hamlet’, Galati University Press, pp. 29-37. Web.