Is Hamlets madness real or feigned





"That unmatched form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy. Oh woe is me
T\'have seen what I have seen, see what I see."
(Act III, Scene 1, lines 168-170)

Ophelia begins to mentally collapse at the beginning of Act III after Hamlet says that he never loved her. This part of William Shakespeare\'s "Hamlet," when Ophelia goes insane, is one of the most well known scenes. However, those who haven\'t read the play in its entirety won\'t necessarily know that one of the most prominent, under-lying themes throughout the play is that of madness. Although madness in each infected Shakespeare character is caused by different circumstances, the fact that they have gone mad greatly affects the outcome of this tragedy.
Hamlet\'s madness could easily be doubted. When Hamlet visited Ophelia before Act II, Scene I, his madness was actually that of love. He burst into her room with "knees knocking each other" and with a "look so piteous in purport as if he had been loosed out of hell to speak of horrors." According to Ophelia, she isn\'t positive his madness was out of love, but she admits, "...truly I do fear it." Hamlet later plays the part of the lunatic, acting contemptuous, witty, and sarcastic when he meets Polonius in the lobby in Act II, Scene II. Hamlet is completely incapable of organized speech and of understanding the most forthright questions. This type of madness is entirely unlike that which he displayed when he visited Ophelia. Later again, when he meets up with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet switches from the deranged act to the depressed one. He tells them of his weariness and misery, but says that he doesn\'t understand the cause of it. These three different types of madness within only a couple of hours and the impression that Hamlet is unable to uphold a performance of consistent madness is very odd. Perhaps he was doing this on purpose, but when he acts mad and gets his life deeply involved in acting mad, where is the line drawn that Hamlet is acting, or that he is acting so well that he begins to adapt to the madness and he is actually mad?
Queen Gertrude suspected Hamlet went mad because of \'his father\'s death and [his mother\'s] o\'verhasty marriage\' to Claudius. She, of course, doesn\'t know he is acting, but recognizes the causes of his melancholy with complete exactitude. Although his theory is far from the truth, Polonius just thinks that Hamlet is mad for Ophelia\'s love, which reflects his intellectual arrogance with which he always thinks he is right about everything, no matter how foolish he seems to others. Finally, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are convinced that Hamlet is mad because his ambitions had been hindered.
Ophelia, the character known for going insane in Hamlet, is a frail and delicate girl who, because of her father\'s sheltering, doesn\'t have a mind of her own. In Act I, Scene III, Ophelia tells her father, Polonius, "[Hamlet] hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection of me," but immediately gets shot down by her fathers words of, "Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl." Polonius then goes on to tell her not to believe Hamlet\'s vows and that she should not waste her free time by talking to Hamlet. It is revealed later on in Act II, Scene I that she does indeed comply with Polonius\'s wishes and to Hamlet\'s love comments being "the very ecstasy of love" by saying, "I did repel his letters and denied his access to me." Although Ophelia loved Hamlet and didn\'t want to deny him anything, the wishes of her father and brother stood in the way of her freedom to love. In her encounter with Hamlet in the Nunnery Scene (III, i), Hamlet tells Ophelia that he doesn\'t love her anymore and then begins to rant about the nunneries and the wickedness of women. Hamlet\'s comments assist the collapse of Ophelia\'s world. So far in her young life, she had been under continual direction of three men: her lover, her brother, and her father. At this point, her brother is in France, and her lover appears insane. When Hamlet kills her father, there is no one to direct her any longer. Ophelia