Show that the THEME OF REASON VERSUS MADNESS... : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

Show that the THEME OF REASON VERSUS MADNESS is an important on in Hamletfrom beginning to end, triggering events in the main plot and linking main plot and subplot(hamlet's relationship to ophelia and her family).

-- Hyster (, January 12, 2002


The Shade of Shakespeare forgive me for saying this, but first you have to decide whether you think Hamlet is mad or is exercising his reason, because that will affect how you interpret everything (and in case you're wondering, the answer is no, he's not mad). Then I'd suggest you go through the text and note all the references to 'reason' and 'madness'. Then think about how they relate to each other and to character's behaviour. Then get back to us if you have problems.

I query, though, the wording of this question. A theme in a play cannot trigger events in the plot, but arises from character's thoughts and actions. It is something we as readers or audience deduce from the events of the plot. Even the author may not necessarily have had it in mind.

So I think the best you could do here would be to argue that because Hamlet consciously values reason and consciously pretends to be mad, the two things are thematic in his view of his life, and therefore to some degree affect his actions and his view of events.

But he doesn't actually see reason and madness as opposed (your 'versus'). He contrasts reason with 'bestial oblivion', which is merely inability to reason. And of course Shakespeare loves to point out the 'method' in madness and the wisdom foolery, in this and other plays.

There is no jester, or 'fool', in this play, even though the play is set in a king's court, because the role is more than adequately filled by the hero, who nevertheless is also the most reasoning of all the characters.

-- catherine england (, January 13, 2002.

I found what you wrote interesting. I was wondering if you could e- mail some information on the theme of maddness in Hamlet. Thanks for your help. It would help a great deal!!!

-- Amy Spadaro (, January 11, 2003.

There are two questions in the forum with heaps of stuff on this: "Is Hamlet mad or is he sane?", and "Was Hamlet mad?".

-- catherine england (, January 11, 2003.

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