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Hamlet

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Sabrina Chanderballi

on 22 May 2013

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Transcript of Hamlet

William Shakespeare Hamlet "Behind the mask of madness, both Hamlet and Ophelia can speak freely." After the sudden and tragic death of his beloved father, Hamlet's friends soon become his enemies, all of whom are at the reigns of the newly crowned king Claudius. There's Hamlet... And his extremely frail and needy mother Gertrude... The pompous Polonius and... His passionate and quick to act son Laertes...
who is also the brother of... Ophelia, a beautiful and innocent fair maiden... The craziness going on around Hamlet is enough to actually drive him mad, but he instead decides to feign insanity to freely interrogate and investigate things without being stopped, to ultimately get his revenge against Claudius for supposedly killing his father. “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put an antic disposition on.” (I. V. 172-173) In this picture, Hamlet's enemies are highlighted with the red arrows, his neutral friends with yellow, and Hamlet himself with blue. The death of Hamlet's father left behind a lot of commotion in Denmark for Hamlet to deal with. Young Fortinbras, ruler of Norway, is ready to declare war against Denmark as Old Hamlet is the person that is responsible for his father's death. Hamlet has to deal with the incestuous marriage of his mother to his uncle so swiftly after his father passes. Claudius steals Hamlet's mother from his father, his father's throne, and now he is trying to steal the role that Old Hamlet played in his life as a father, but Hamlet refuses to let that happen. Hamlet and Ophelia claim to be genuinely in love with each, but her concerned father, Polonius, and overprotective brother, Laertes, warn her to stay away from him as they do not believe that Hamlet's love for her is real and she obeys, for some time at least. Hamlet and Ophelia's relationship quickly takes a turn for the worst when insanity overtakes both of their minds. On top of everything else that Hamlet is going through, he now has to deal with the torment of seeing his father's ghost. The ghost tells Hamlet that he is the ghost of his father and claims that Claudius is responsible for his death, but Hamlet is unsure of whether to trust the ghost or not. Hamlet's mates from school, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, turn against him and side with the King, thinking that they are helping Hamlet, but really, they are playing right into Claudius' evil plan to get rid of Hamlet. In Act IV, scene ii, Hamlets says to Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, "Besides to be demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son of a king?" Hamlet refers to his school mates as sponges because they soak up everything that Claudius tells them in the same manner that a sponge soaks up liquid. Unlike Hamlet, Ophelia's madness isn't false. It isn't a mask that she puts on. The consequences of Hamlet's crazy actions are what is to blame for her actually losing her mind and eventually committing suicide. As the play progresses, Hamlet's hold on his own sanity becomes questionable as he does things that are very out of character. After the death of his father, Hamlet desires nothing more than to end his life as he doesn't see a purpose to living in a world without his beloved father. Acting impulsively rather than his normal premeditative self, Hamlet kills Polonius, but his real intentions were to kill Claudius. While eavesdropping on a conversation in his mother's chambers, he assumes that she is speaking to Claudius and impulsively comes out of hiding and kills the other person in the room, but it turns out that, that person was actually Polonius. At one point while Hamlet is having a serious conversation with his mother Gertrude about his actions, the ghost of his father appears, but only he can see it. This makes me questions whether this ghost is real or just a pigment of Hamlet's imagination and if that's the case, it makes Hamlet's sanity questionable. All the while, the audience is thinking that Hamlet and Ophelia are no longer together as Polonius strictly ordered Ophelia to stay away from him and Hamlet expressed his distaste towards women in the earlier acts of the play. However, this is not at all true. In Act IV, Ophelia professes feelings of betrayal due to the fact that she lost her virginity to a man that simply walked out on her the next morning. However, Ophelia does not portray these feelings in any ordinary way. She decides to sings them out to everyone in the castle. Even though Ophelia never actually mentions Hamlet's name while singing her song of distress, it is assumed that she is talking about him. Ophelia's madness is said to have ultimately been brought on by all the pressure that is put upon her throughout the play by her brother and father, along with the heartbreak she experienced because of Hamlet. Ophelia is faced with a lot of pressure from her father, and brother, and she has no choice but to obey them because she is a female and has no power. For example, when Polonius orders Ophelia to not see Hamlet anymore, instead of objecting, she simply says, "I shall obey my Lord." (I. iv. 10) Pressure is then placed on Ophelia to spy on Hamlet, which then turns things sour between Ophelia and Hamlet, leaving her heartbroken. Hamlet senses that Ophelia is spying on him for her father and begins insulting her, which completely crushes Ophelia's spirits because she deeply cares for Hamlet. The last straw is when Ophelia looses her virginity and expresses her feelings to everyone through a strange series of songs. At this point, it can be noted that Ophelia no longer has a grip on reality as result of all the negative male domination in her life. After singing her heart out, Ophelia ends her life. Hamlet on the other hand, continues on with his false insanity, and no one has a clue. This antic disposition of his allows him to get away with doing and saying things in the play that no sane person would normally have been able to. In the end, it turns out that Ophelia's madness is not a mask that she is using to reveal her true emotions like Hamlet is. Ophelia honestly loses her sanity and ends up committing suicide because of this. However, the statement, "Behind the mask of madness, both Hamlet and Ophelia can speak freely," is true for Hamlet. His faked insanity allowed him to get away with many thing throughout the play because everyone else just chalked his actions up to him being insane. Although, Hamlet's "insanity" gets him killed in the end of the play, leaving him with the same unfortunate fate as Ophelia. In conclusion, Hamlet is able to speak freely throughout the play behind the mask of madness, but Ophelia speaks freely because of madness.
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