Ophelia's Madness Essay

826 words - 4 pages

Madness is usually misinterpreted and misconstrued. Sometimes it is faked, sometimes it is nonsensical. However, that is not always the case. Ophelia’s madness in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is real and of great significance; furthermore, when seen with a discerning eye, Ophelia’s actions might not seem as irrational and without meaning and cause.
Shakespeare displays Ophelia’s madness through her deranged singing and through the reactions of the other character to her strange behaviors. Throughout Act 4, Scene 5 of Hamlet, Ophelia sings in lieu of her usual formal speech. Gertrude had been warned by the gentleman prior to Ophelia’s entrance that “her speech is nothing” (4.5.7). When Ophelia ...view middle of the document...

5.60-65). The second blow comes from the unnatural death of her father. Ophelia sings to Gertrude about her father’s death, “He is dead and gone, lady; he is dead and gone, At his head a grass-green turf, At his heels a stone” (4.5.28-31). This shows that her father’s death is on the forefront of her mind. Ophelia had always looked to her father for what to do and with him gone, she finds herself lost. After Ophelia’s first exit in Act 4, Scene 5, Claudius states that he believes her madness is caused solely by her father’s death, “Oh, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs All from her father’s death…” (4.5.74-75). The combination of these two experiences conjures enough grief to madden a mature adult, let alone an innocent young lady. The madness caused by these events plays a significant role in the play.
Ophelia’s authentic madness serves to contrast Hamlet’s partly forged insanity. Hamlet warns Horatio and Marcellus that no matter how strange he might act they are not to speak of what they know (1.5.169-180). Hamlet states that he will put on airs that he is mad when he thinks it will be useful, “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on” (1.5.171-172). Ophelia never fakes her madness. Because Ophelia is mad,...

Find Another Essay On Ophelia's Madness

Ophelia's Neurotic Mind Essay

888 words - 4 pages William Shakespeare's writings have left many readers pondering what the actual meanings of his plays are, and why the characters act in a certain manner. In Hamlet, a great deal of scholarly detective work has been done to unravel the unique complexity of his text, such as, why Ophelia became mad. There were many factors that could have led to Ophelia's insanity. Carroll Camden believed that Ophelia's madness was induced by the death of her

Conspire in the Madness Essay

834 words - 4 pages until the ecounter with the ghots of his father that his entire demeanor is altered. From the gloomy thinker to a revenge fueled madman focused on the sole purpose of avenging his father's undeserving murder. Ophelia's madness, pure madness, causes her to behave in the typical manner a lunatic would, out of character and flat out wierd. The usually calm and docile Ophelia begins to sing strange songs while wandering about, skipping between random

The Symbolism of Ophelia’s Character

715 words - 3 pages Name Subject Instructor Date The Symbolism of Ophelia’s Character The name Ophelia has been most commonly associated with William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, where she is referred to as the title character's mad lover. She is believed to have killed herself out of madness by drowning herself in a river. Interpretations about Ophelia's character have ranged from being a woman who lost her sanity upon her father, Polonius' death to being

Hamlet: Branagh's Ophelia and Showalter's Representing Ophelia

2060 words - 8 pages sexuality.  Such a relationship is exactly what Elaine Showalter discusses in her essay -- "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism" -- "I will be showing first of all the representational bonds between female insanity and female sexuality" (Showalter 223).  "Tracing" various representations of Ophelia throughout history, Showalter attempts to tell Ophelia's story by examining the way in which the culture of

Custom Essays: Hamlet as an Accessory to Ophelia's Suicide

2178 words - 9 pages exaggerating her emotions to give an impression of madness.  Although their impression of Ophelia can be supported, evidence is not shown as much in her words, as it is shown in her actions.  Ophelia's songs seem like riddles and nonsense2[2], yet they are similar to the patterns of speech by Hamlet, revealing truths and true emotions, and at times sarcasm.   However, Ophelia's whimsical, and child-like behavior is quite different than the prim, reserved

Character Analysis of Ophelia and how she conects the two plots of the play Hamlet. The two plots are the Hamlet Plot and the Polonius plot

1254 words - 5 pages resisting the coercion of another character, must take part in the plan to test Hamlet. Polonius' plot is dependent on Ophelia's weakness because it is the only means that they can use to test Hamlet.Polonius and Claudius are never certain whether or not Ophelia is the cause of Hamlet's madness. This uncertainty causes them to search for the truth, which they think is found in Ophelia. Their search is what enables Hamlet to continue his actions

The Roles of minor characters in Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Ophelia Character Analysis

1228 words - 5 pages "Madness." When exploring the character of Ophelia we must take into consideration personal beliefs, knowledge and outside criticisms which may affect our reading of the character. For example, if the reader analyses Ophelia's character from the perspective of feminism, concerned with the equal rights and fair treatment of women, or historical context, an understanding of what it was like in the period of time the play was both written and set; their

Hamlet, method to the madness

1589 words - 6 pages , actsas a balancing argument to the other character's madness orsanity. King Lear's more decisive distinction between Lear'sfrailty of mind and Edgar's contrived madness works to betterdefine the relationship between Ophelia's breakdown and Hamlet's "north-north-west" brand of insanity. Both plays offer a characteron each side of sanity, but in Hamlet the distinction is not asclear as it is in King Lear. Using the more explicit relationshipin King

Madness in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

1779 words - 7 pages have consented to their marriage" (83). She is so distraught at this time that she is looking for a way to ease her mind and body. The Valentine Song cleans her soul, and perhaps she believed the brook would cleanse her body. Ophelia's suicide was just the last action for her to take in order to totally secure peace of mind. Misery breeds madness, and madness leads to inevitable death. Not just death in the physical

Ophelia's Tragedy

915 words - 4 pages , describing her as "fragile" and "lovely," while on the other hand "Hamlet is monstrous to torment her into her true madness (Bloom 42). His blithe concern after slaughtering Polonius would be another candidate", Bloom states, in regard to the events that sent Ophelia into a mindset of insanity (Bloom 41). Ophelia's is set up for death from the first act of the play, in Ophelia's encounters with Polonius and Laertes. Ophelia speaks about

Essay on Ophelia - The Innocent Victim in Shakespeare's Hamlet

854 words - 3 pages , he turns his back on Ophelia either because it is all part of his act, or because his genuine madness is causing him to do so. In Act III scene i, Polonius and the King hide behind Ophelia's curtains and eavesdrop on the conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia. Hamlet goes on to scold Ophelia and accuse her of not being chaste "Ha, ha! Are you honest?" ... "Are you fair?" ... "Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be / a breeder of sinners

Similar Essays

Ophelia's Shift To Madness Essay

1170 words - 5 pages later, and then went mad, which caused her to never gain her own identity. To stay in control, the men in Hamlet taught Ophelia to fear her every day, natural thoughts causing her not to think for herself. Gabrielle Dane's article, "Reading Ophelia's Madness," discusses Polonius and Laertes retarding Ophelia's identity. Dane writes, "Both brother and father smother Ophelia in an incestuous strangle-hold, each the self-appointed tutor of her

Ophelia's Road To Madness Essay

1171 words - 5 pages Ophelia's madness we soon find out that Hamlet later on in Act III scene IV after the The Murder of Gonzago play is over Hamlet kills Polonius assuming that it is Claudius who is behind the curtain. When Ophelia finds out about her fathers death it causes her to really open her eyes. Ophelias dependence on men to tell her what to do was eventually gone, she had lost a man in her life who always told her what to do. She is now able to express her

Ophelia's Madness Essay

1015 words - 4 pages The character of Ophelia is an excellent element of drama used to develop interpretations of Shakespeare’s text. At the beginning of the play, she is happy and in love with Hamlet, who first notices her beauty and then falls in love with her. The development of Ophelia’s madness and the many factors that contributed to her suicide are significant parts of the plot. “Her madness was attributed to the extremity of her emotions, which in such a

Ophelia's Madness In Shakespeare´S Hamlet Essay

780 words - 3 pages Although Ophelia’s madness may not be as “method”-ical as Hamlet’s, Ophelia’s sayings, songs and riddle like remarks confirm Laertes suspicion, “This nothing’s more than matter.” (4.4.183) While Laertes remarks suggest that Ophelia’s words might be significant, it is actually Laertes words which hold the “key” to Ophelia (1.3.90). For this “nothing” or “no-thing” is bawdy wordplay which refers to Ophelia’s vagina and the “matter” is Ophelia’s