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I have heard a theory that Ophelia madness is dependent on Hamlet's madness. I don't see it. Does anyone? Explan.

-- Nick (nic4@lehigh.edu), December 07, 1999


I think that is actually quite accurate. Ophelia went mad, I assume, because of her father4s death and Hamlet4s neglected love. Had Hamlet not been mad, her father would not have died and Hamlet would probably still be in love with her...and show it. So I think that once Ophelia lost both her father and Hamlet, she went mad...and both events happened because of Hamlet4s madness.

-- Larissa (slitch4ever@hotmail.com), December 13, 1999.

But Hamlet ain't mad.

In part possibly Ophelia's madness is a dramatic tool to show us that Hamlet ain't mad. It is WS saying 'This is what real madness is like. See, Hamlet is pretending as he said he would in I.v.172-173'.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), December 06, 2001.

ophelia was a weak person all together. Her going mad as nothing to do with Hamlet. She went mad because the person who told her what to do (her father) was killed. So who would be there to tell her how to act where to go what to do...freedom drove her mad my friend...no one there to control her and if she made a mistake she would be at fault and she wouldn't be able to say "my father told me to" understand?

-- erin (crow909@yahoo.com), December 18, 2001.

Hamlet may not in actuality be mad, but he is percieved as such, not only by his friends and family, but by Ophelia as well. Ophelia is so tied to him that when she sees him going mad, she assumes that she must be going made as well since they are linked so closely. And by believing that she should be going mad, she does. Sympathetic madness, mind over body.

-- Slashqueen (slashqueen@hotmail.com), February 12, 2002.

That's really lovely.

Between IV.iv and Iv.v a period close to two months has to pass - time enough for word to reach Laertes in France that his father has been killed, and time enough for Hamlet to have gone part-way to England, be captured by pirates, and come back and send letters to Claudius, the Queen and Horatio (see IV.v - Iv.vii); but less than two months because Hamlet was in Denmark when the Norman Lamord came there (IV.vii.80-99).

In Iv.v it is unclear how long Ophelia has been mad (IV.v.67). So it probably didn't just happen over night after her father's death. It's probably brought on by a combination of several things: her own hiding of her feelings (she never tells, and no one comprehends, that she loves Hamlet deeply); her father not really caring about how she feels, and making use of her to spy on Hamlet; her belief that Hamlet is mad; her belief that it is at least partly her fault that Hamlet is mad because she rejected his love; her father being killed; her father being killed by the man she loves; being alone suddenly (Laertes is away, her father is killed, Hamlet goes away). After all of that she descends, but perhaps quite gradually, into madness.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), February 12, 2002.

The separation of social levels reinforced by her family, most notably by her brother, who states that hamlet is ‘subject to his birth’ (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 45) in my opinion is the reasoning towards Ophelia’s madness. This rather hypocritical statement does seem to suggest that more people are sexually active than the audience may have first thought, it is only that Ophelia is manipulated by those around her to such an extent that we see her sexual activity portrayed to such an exaggerated state which ultimately, is the reason behind her madness. Another interpretation is that she was so deprived of love and affection that her independence has led her into such a state of mind, after all, she was unloved by her mother, unloved my her father, subjugated by her brother, and finally when she though she had found love with Hamlet he refused her of his

-- steve freshwater (steve44is@hotmail.com), January 03, 2004.

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