Madness is a vital plot element in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Both young Hamlet and his love Ophelia appear mad throughout the play’s duration, but only Ophelia has a genuine affliction of insanity. Although stricken with grief by his father’s death and the clamorous events that follow, Hamlet does not become truly mad because he is still able to distinguish right form wrong and maneuver logically in his plan to avenge his murdered father. Shakespeare surreptitiously places revelations of Hamlet’s sanity throughout the play. Though his planned maneuver to murder his uncle Claudius, the contrast between his feigned madness and Ophelia’s true madness, and his ability change behavior around different characters that possess his trust, Hamlet’s true, rational condition emerges from beneath his veil of insanity.
The death of one’s father and a ghostly visitation thereafter are events that would challenge the sanity of anyone. The circumstances of King Hamlet’s death render it especially traumatic. The late King seemed to be an idol to his son; Hamlet looked up to him and aspired to have the same qualities. Hamlet doesn't like King Claudius and sees him as a swindling usurper who has stolen not only the dead King’s throne, but Hamlet’s as well(2.4). Hamlet shows Gertrude that she has lowered her standards by marrying Claudius, When he refers to old Hamlet as, “A combination and a form indeed / Where every god did seem to set his seal” (3.4.55-61).
Oedipus’ parents, Jocasta and Laius, sent Oedipus to die because of his fate. Oedipus survived and later save the city of Thebes from the sphinx. Oedipus is later found married to the queen of Thebes and is now trying to find out who killed the previous king, Laius. Regarding ignorance, Sophocles seems to say that ignorance can be anyones down fall. The first example is that Oedipus’ anger helps show how ignorant Oedipus is and how he even makes false accusations towards others.
In the soliloquy, Hamlet is at first upset with himself about finding ways to avoid avenging his Father’s murder, like his spirit in ghost form told him to. This complaining turns into self hatred and then Hamlet is insulting himself outright. The main reason for this is he has agreed to get revenge on Claudius so his father’s spirit can be at peace, but he hasn’t done it yet. The fact that the Player seems to be more able to get into the mindset of revenge than he can further discourages him. This on top of the fact that Hamlet’s dad is dead and his mother married that man he hates most in the world makes for a pretty melancholy fellow.
Shakespeare incorporated the theme of madness to serve a motive for Hamlet in order to deceive others. Hamlet planned everything from what he was doing to what he was going to do. Hamlet did in fact pretend to be mad, just so he could follow through on his plan to avenge his father’s death. He acted like he was mad because he did not want to directly kill Claudius, because he wanted to make him suffer. Hamlet also knew that he could not tell anyone that Claudius has murdered his father or that he had seen the ghost of his father because no one would believe him.
He comes to understand the weakness of human nature at the same time when Gloucester comes to understand which son is really good and which one is bad at the very moment of his blinding. Gloucester’s physical blindness symbolizes the metaphorical blindness that affects both Gloucester and King Lear. The parallels between the two men are made very clear to the audience: both are blind to the truth, both have loyal and disloyal children and both end up banishing the loyal children while making the wicked ones their heirs. Only when Gloucester has lost his sight and Lear has gone mad does each realize the errors they’ve made and who should be held accountable. Betrayal rears its ugly head in more ways than one in a tale about two men blinded by false acts of love.
This evidently is a declaration of his intention to be "foolish," as Schmidt has explained the word. 2 Then to his mother in the Closet Scene, he distinctly refers to the belief held by some about the court that he is mad, and assures her that he is intentionally acting the part of madness in order to attain his object: "I essentially am not in madness, But mad in craft." (III. iv. 187-8.)
When the oracle said that her son would kill his father and sleep with his mother she quickly abandoned her son to avoid that horrible fate and thanked the oracle for that. However, when Oedipus heard that Polybus was dead and realized he didn’t kill his father Jocasta said the oracle was useless. Jocasta is the type of person that chooses to be blind and accept the lies but only when they help her. If the truths help her then she will accept the truths. Jocasta is also trying to blind Oedipus in this quote.
Hamlet also expresses the possibilities that the ghost could have been the devil. Although hamlet gets upset with himself he believes that the play he arranged would display Claudius’ guilt and then he will know for sure he killed his father. This reveals to the audience that Hamlet is a procrastinator and he is a coward. In Hamlet’s fifth soliloquy he contemplates the idea of suicide, he suggests that maybe the only reason we choose life is because we know so little about death other than it Is final. After contemplation Hamlet decides not to take his own life.
Hamlet has been instructed by the ghost of his late father to avenge his death by killing King Claudius. This is what brings mistrust and eavesdropping into the picture. Claudius has suspensions about Hamlet’s peculiar behavior, and has summoned his school chums, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, to spy on him. Before they even start their expedition of eavesdropping, the King and Polonious have already made plans to hide being a wall hanging during Hamlet and Ophelia’s exchange of love gifts. King Claudius is determined to discover an alternative motive to Hamlet’s madness besides depression.