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Role of Pretense of Madness in Hamlet by Shakespeare

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In Hamlet, the pretense of madness was a huge part of this play. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet had severe consequences for all the characters. However, referring to the main protagonist Hamlet, he was mainly the character that has been affected negatively. Hamlet experiences different ways of loss throughout the play because of his decision to act mad. Furthermore, individuals who act over madness to take revenge must experience losses in their lives. To start off, individuals who act mad will misjudge others losing trust in people around. For instance, Hamlet accused Ophelia as he is acting irrationally to prove that he is mad.

Hamlet declares to Ophelia when Claudius and Polonius are spying on them, “Farewell, Or, if /thou wilt needs to marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well /enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, /and quickly too, Farewell”(III.i.138-141). This quotation indicates that during the time Hamlet deceives people around him, he actually is losing his trust in his love Ophelia because he is misjudging her actions. He decides not to marry her anymore and accuses her that her beauty can make her a “whore”.

Throughout the play, Hamlet never declares his plan to take revenge to no one except Horatio. This also proves that in the long run, Hamlet is losing all of his trust to everyone, even to the girl he admired and was going to marry. Furthermore, even before Hamlet starts his plan and knows about his Senior Hamlet’s murder, he eventually lost his trust in his mother Gertrude. For example, Hamlet states in Claudius and Gertrude speech about Senior Hamlet, “ Why she, even she–O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason/ Would have mourned longer!–married with my uncle/ My father’s brother, but no more like my father/Than I to Hercules”(I.ii.149-153). Shakespeare uses metaphor in this context to emphasize the pain Hamlet is feeling in his mother’s wedding. Hamlet thinks that he is as strong as Hercules to deal with this painful feeling he was seeing his mother marrying his uncle after only two months from Senior Hamlet’s death. At this point in the play, Hamlet starts to develop mistrust feelings towards his mother as he thinks that she betrayed his father and didn’t value all the love he gave to her. In this scene, Hamlet didn’t take into consideration whether Gertrude is betraying Senour Hamlet or she really has love feelings towards his uncle. He ultimately misjudges her actions too, like Ophelia, and lost trust in her after. This also can be proven as Hamlet never trust his mother to tell her his plans and that Claudius is the one who killed his father. In conclusion, when Hamlet acted mad, he starts to misjudge people around him, like Ophelia and Gertrude, leading him ultimately to lose his trust in people.

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Second, Individuals who pretend madness will not be able to control their actions, thus they end up losing their love feeling in the people around them. For instance, when Hamlet couldn’t control his anger towards his uncle, he killed Polonius by mistake. This lead Ophelia, Polonius’s daughter and Hamlet’s love, to lose her sanity. She has been irrational and insane since her father’s incident. When the whole family gathered to talk about critical and extensive problems, she enters singing, “He is dead and gone, lady/ He is dead and gone,/ At his head a grass-green turf,/ At his heels a stone. Oh, ho!”(IV.VI.28-32). This quotation shows how Ophelia got insane over her shock in her beloved Hamlet and in Polonius, her father’s death. This shock affected her mentality made her drained and senseless to what is going around her and she ended up drowning in her house lake. All of this mess happened because of Hamlet’s unwise and impulsive actions. His anger blindfolded his sense of humor leading him to commit horrible actions and take impulsive decisions, like taking his sword out and kill the person behind the curtains as he thought he was Claudius.

Thus, Hamlet lost his love Ophelia because of his actions. Furthermore, Hamlet also lost his love for his mother because of his irrational actions. Also, because of Polonius’s murder, Hamlet starts to accuse Gertrude; destroying all the lovely and strong bonds between a son and his mother. For example, Hamlet discloses his feeling to Gertrud in an unpleasant way saying, “ You are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,/ And– would it were not so!–you are my mother”(III.IV.16-17), and he also states, “Have you eyes? Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed/And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?/You cannot call it love, for at your age/The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble”(III.IV.66-70). Again, because of his mistrust to his mother, his way and actions in expressing his feeling towards her are causing him to lose her love. As it is shown in both quotations, he obviously shows hate and derision feelings as he cannot accept or believe that his mother betrayed his father and fell in love with his uncle. He starts to put all the blame to her, the one who loves him, instead of Claudius, who hates him, even though the ghost told him not to hurt his mother. Thus, Hamlet experiences the loss of feelings of love his mother. Overall, Hamlet’s uncontrolled actions emitted from his fake madness caused his loss of love for Gertrud and Ophelia.

Finally, individuals who fake madness will lose their friends and lose their innocence eventually. For instance, Hamlet declares, “ Without debatement further, more or less,/ he should the bearers put to sudden death,/Not shriving time allowed”(V.ii.47-49). At this point in the play, no one is able to tell if Hamlet got insane for real or he still acts. However, he committed an action that ended his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, lives. Again, his acting affects his brain making it senseless to what is appropriate and rational and what is not. Additionally, as soon as he knew that his friends have some connection to Claudius, he admits that they betray him. Hamlet has no evidence for his conclusions, he is now having mistrust to anyone in his life. After Ophelia’s death and his mother’s loss, It is expected that Hamlet will act in this impulsive way. Also, he does not only lose his friends but also he hurts them badly. He asked the King of England to kill them without any doubt. Thus, Hamlet lost his friends because he decided to act mad and irrational. Furthermore, Hamlet lost his innocence throughout the play. At the very beginning, Claudius killed Senior Hamlet and Hamlet’s mother married Claudius immediately, which causes a big chain of events that causes Hamlet’s loss. Hamlet had to be in this mess when he was just a child, living with all of these killers, treasons, and blood. This all cases his loss of morality; which pushes him to kill his friends, hurt his beloved Ophelia and his mother as well.

Hamlet states in his first line on the whole play, “A little more than kin and less than kind”(I.ii.65). Shakespeare made this Hamlet’s first line in purpose, He wanted to give a clue to the readers and the audience that Hamlet was a good guy and everyone in Denmark loved and respect him for his good manners and values. This proves that Hamlet experiences all of these losses because of the environment he was surrounded by and not because he was evil like Claudius who killed his brother to be the next king. Thus, Hamlet’s loss of innocence is the main reason for all the problems he had been through and for all the impulsive decisions he made. Overall, When Hamlet pretends that he is mad, he lost his friends with his innocence as well. In conclusion, faking madness in Hamlet is a significant factor that plays a huge role in the play. Because of this plan, Hamlet experiences different types of losses causing a lot of blood on the ground ultimately. First, Hamlet lost trust in his family members; Ophelia and Gertrud. Second, he lost the love he had in his life; his love for Ophelia as she died because of him and his love for his mother through the hate speech he gave to her. Then, he lost his closest friends, who came from England to help him, because of his irrational way of thinking. Finally, he lost his innocence as he decides to strip off all his manners and values to be like Claudius.

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Role of Pretense of Madness in Hamlet by Shakespeare. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/role-of-pretense-of-madness-in-hamlet-by-shakespeare/
“Role of Pretense of Madness in Hamlet by Shakespeare.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/role-of-pretense-of-madness-in-hamlet-by-shakespeare/
Role of Pretense of Madness in Hamlet by Shakespeare. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/role-of-pretense-of-madness-in-hamlet-by-shakespeare/> [Accessed 27 Nov. 2022].
Role of Pretense of Madness in Hamlet by Shakespeare [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Nov 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/role-of-pretense-of-madness-in-hamlet-by-shakespeare/
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