MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

1176 views

Analyse the theme of madness in Shakespeare's Hamlet

One of the central controversies surrounding the play Hamlet is as to whether the main character's madness is 'forced' or genuine. With this in mind there are a number of approaches to this question, all of which are equally valid if structured with care:

Hamlet's Madness is a Crafty Plan: Hamlet at the beginning of the play informs Horatio 'I perchance hereafter shall think meet/ To put an antic disposition on'- in other words, he is warning them that, having been set the task of avenging his father, he must necessarily act mad to avoid suspicion. He later confirms this by telling his mother that he is 'essentially not in madness,/ But mad in craft'- even the skeptical Polonius admits 'Though this be madness, yet there is method in't'. You might compare the language used by the 'mad' Hamlet to that of the unquestionably mad Ophelia- whilst Hamlet's seemingly nonsensical jibes often contain some hidden wisdom (for example, the apparently nonsensical 'fish-monger' insult he directs towards Polonius has been interpreted by some scholars as teasing the Chamberlain's love of extravagant speeches), Ophelia's ramblings are spontaneous, with little relevance to the situation at hand (KING: 'How do you, pretty lady' OPHELIA: 'Well, God dild you! They say the owl was a baker's daughter') Therefore you might conclude by saying that whilst for some in Hamlet, so-called madness is a means of furthering your ambition, for the likes of Ophelia it represents a truthful response to frightening events

Some/All of Hamlet's madness is real: Though Hamlet outwardly suggests that he is feigning madness, as the play's plot unfolds his behaviour becomes increasingly questionable. You might suggest that this comes from the pressure he feels in avenging his father- he complains himself 'O cursed spite,/ That ever I was born to set it right!'. This anxiety manifests itself in violent, ill advised actions like the killing of Polonius, who the paranoid Hamlet kills without even seeing who he is, only suspecting him of being 'a rat'. Likewise, there is much evidence through his soliloquies throughout the play that his own worldview has become increasingly turbulent and confused. Despondent lines like 'How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable/ Seem to me all the uses of this world' suggest that he is melancholic, which in the context of Shakespeare's Renaissance era would suggest that he is approaching madness, or is at the very least developing its symptoms.Therefore another conclusion to this essay might be that although Hamlet might be trying to show that his madness is only designed to trick others, there is a deeper imbalance in his psyche which we can detect throughout his dialogue and actions.

Declan H. GCSE English tutor, 13 plus  English tutor, 11 Plus English...

1 year ago

Answered by Declan, a GCSE English tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

216 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£30 /hr

Vicky H.

Degree: Dentistry (Masters) - Leeds University

Subjects offered:English, Science+ 12 more

English
Science
Maths
Mandarin
Human Biology
English Literature
English Language
Chemistry
.UKCAT.
.BMAT (BioMedical Admissions)
-Personal Statements-
-Oxbridge Preparation-
-Medical School Preparation-

“Hi I'm Vicky, I'm a 2nd year dental student at the University of Leeds. I am friendly and patient and have a love for science, maths and teaching.”

£18 /hr

Jennifer B.

Degree: BA English and Creative Writing (Bachelors) - Birmingham University

Subjects offered:English, Maths+ 3 more

English
Maths
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“I'm friendly, resourceful, empathetic and ambitious. I work hard and like to see results.”

MyTutor guarantee

£18 /hr

Georgina B.

Degree: English (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:English, Geography+ 4 more

English
Geography
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“Hi, I’m Georgie! I am a friendly and enthusiastic English graduate with a determination to share my passion for literature and language.”

MyTutor guarantee

About the author

Declan H. GCSE English tutor, 13 plus  English tutor, 11 Plus English...

Declan H.

Currently unavailable: until

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:English

English

“I am an English Literature student entering the second year of my course at Durham University. I'm extremely passionate about all areas of English Literature, but in particular enjoy the works of Shakespeare as well as those of the Mo...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other GCSE English questions

How can I best use my time during an IB English Literature Paper 1 (commentary on an unseen passage)?

How do I make my essay stand out, and avoid feature spotting?

How am I going to remember to get all of these different factors into essays in my exam?

What is the difference between the tone and mood of a text?

View GCSE English tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok