Critical/Analytical Polished Response

Driven to Madness

The ways in which individuals struggle to restore honor and certainty?

           When a devoted individual cannot receive guidance from those around her, she is able to relinquish her need to put on an absurdity in order to match her emotions, rather than her reputation.This is caused because of uncertainty and the need for instructions. In order for an individual to thrive in the real world, they must learn to be independent which is demonstrated in this play by negatively demonstrating specific characters needs for leadership..  In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Shakespeare uses certain characters to demonstrate how honor and certainty can be restored through madness.

         In Act 4 Scene 5, Shakespeare shows how Ophelia’s mindset changes after losing her father and lover. All her mixed emotions caused her to go “mad” because she could not take in everything that had happened to her in such a small time frame. She sung her life story but no other character could understand the lyrics. People assumed that since she had lost the most important male figures in her life that she had no self control which ultimately led to her madness. Truly, this loss had shown her that she was not under orders anymore and had the chance to express herself. At one point she speaks of Saint Valentine’s Day and how men trap women in which she is speaking of the time when she opened her legs for Hamlet. She thought Hamlet would be her husband, but he left her. She claims that she prays to bring back her purity which is how she is restoring her honor, but since she does not know the whereabouts of Hamlet nor what his feelings towards her are, she is left feeling uncertain and not completed. This also relates to Gertrude because after her husband’s death she had no guidance which ultimately led her to become uncertain about how her future life was going to be which gave a chance for Claudius to slowly entice her so that they could become king and queen.

        In Act 4 Scene 5 , Shakespeare also shows how an individual can reach certainty when they attempt to seek truth no matter how they find the truth. When Ophelia sung to Gertrude she was trying to tell her that they are similar. Ophelia wanted  to feel comforted and feel a connection with someone. Even though Gertrude was replying to Ophelia as if she didn’t know what she was talking about, Ophelia could see through Gertrude’s expressions that she wasn’t the only one. She felt a feeling of certainty because finally her madness helped her receive some closure.

       Another significant moment in Act 4 Scene 5 was when Laertes rushes in and has his chat with Claudius until he notices his sister. She hands certain characters random items that seem to represent flowers in which she feels represents each character and their actions. By doing this she is opening up which wouldn’t have happened unless she had reached the state of madness. People felt her actions were okay because of her state and she was not questioned. The reactions helped Ophelia become steps closer to fully reaching certainty. Since she did not have her father or Hamlet at the moment she had no one to tell her what was right or wrong so she was able to do what she pleased. Since she has no true reason for existence she becomes weak and does not care about her actions. Her death is shown as her falling and not having the strength to get back up instead of her committing suicide because suicide was against Christianity. After her last moments of existence she felt satisfied and was ready to be done.

        Her madness expressed truth, pain, and regret all in one. She spoke of her mistakes which helped her reach a point of certainty. Her madness helped the characters see her honor. She may not have done many honorable acts but she was a stable person who would not go against the will of her father which at that time was very honorable. Her madness was achieved because she could not grief. All the events tied up together which caused her to become deranged but this helped her find truth and express her emotions without feeling the need to respect anyone. Her madness gave her the chance to express her thoughts freely. Even after she stated her mistake her honor was not restored, but it was valued. People only truly cared for her after her madness which shows that sometimes individuals must become someone they are not so that they can express themselves freely and honestly without having to worry.

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