In Hamlet, Shakespeare brings together a theme of madness with two characters, one truly mad, and one only acting mad to serve a motive. We can see this point through two characters namely Hamlet and Ophelia. The madness of Hamlet is frequently disputed. Ophelia's breakdown and Hamlet's brand of insanity argue for Hamlet having a method to his seeming insanity. The play offers a character on each side of sanity. While Shakespeare does not directly put Ophelia's insanity, or breakdown, against Hamlet's own madness, there is indeed a clear accuracy in Ophelia's condition and a clear uncertainty in Hamlet's madness. Obviously, Hamlet's character offers more evidences, while Ophelia's breakdown is quick, but more conclusive in its precision.
Shakespeare offers clear evidence pointing to Hamlet's sanity beginning with the first scene of the play. Hamlet begins with guards whose main importance in the play is to give credibility to the ghost. If Hamlet were to see his father's ghost in private, the argument for his madness would greatly improve. Yet, not one, but three men together witness the ghost before even thinking to notify Hamlet. As Hamlet says, "O that this too sullied flesh would melt,” (1.2.129) we can see that he is depressed and appalled, but it does not mean he is insane. After the first meeting with the ghost, Hamlet greets his friends cheerfully and acts as if the news is good rather than the devastation it really is. This is the first glimpse of Hamlet's ability and inclination to manipulate his behavior to achieve effect. Clearly Hamlet is not feeling cheerful at this moment, but if he lets the guards know the severity of the news, they might suspect its nature. Another instance of Hamlet's behav!
ior manipulation is his meeting with Ophelia while his uncle and Polonious are hiding behind a curtain. Hamlet's affection for Ophelia has already been established, and his complete rejection of
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