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    • Madness allows for a form of satire and an outlet for Hamlet's attack on court conventions and dishonesty.
      • Refers to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Act Four Scene Two as an "apple" and a "sponge" to the King
        • Double entendres. Hamlet's madness is his way of coping with the actions of revenge he must take, but also the dishonesty and corruption around him?
        • Also to Claudius - "a man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king..."
          • Idea of Renaissance Humanism = challenged traditional ideas on hierarchy
        • HAZLITT - Hamlet is the Prince of Philosophical Spectators.
        • Words to Polonius in Act Two Scene Two - refers to him as a "fishmonger" and hints at "conception" being a blessing
          • MACK - "Hamlet is privileged in madness"....."to say things about the state of human corruption."
      • Idea of feigned madness is taken from the original Danish revenge story, which Shakespeare filled with uncertainty.
    • Ophelia's madness acts as a dramatic foil to Hamlet's in its pure and non-feigned state = HER MADNESS MAKES HER A DANGER TO WOMAN-HOOD AS MUCH AS HAMLET'S IS TO THE STATE
      • Ophelia - "let in the maid, that out a maid/never departed more."
        • May be why her death is so feminine/romanticised?
        • Juxtaposes to her form of madness, is in Verse and singing (very feminine) whilst Hamlet's presentation of madness is often in prose and very blunt, stilted language
      • SHOWALTER - "Ophelia is chiefly interesting ... in what she tells us about Hamlet"  (can argue no, she provides an insight into feminine conventions)
    • Hamlet's madness at many points appears real = allows the audience to share in his internal conflict and uncertainty.
      • JOHNSON - Hamlet's madness is clearly feigned, "he is more acted upon than the actor." (can argue against this here)
      • After Hamlet sees his father's ghost "in this distracted globe"
        • Ambiguous, refers to his mind, the world of Denmark and the theatre itself. Allows the audience to share in his line of consciousness.
      • Gertrude and Claudius' depiction of Hamlet's "nighted colour" (wearing all black) and Claudius depiction of "unmanly grief"
        • Hamlet's response is dislocated and with a disjointed rhythm.
        • Play begins 'in medius res' = we gain a true understanding of the depth of Hamlet's grief.
      • KASTAN - The absence of clear answers to the cause of human suffering is key to Shakespearean tragedy.
      • His preoccupation with death and mortality "O that this sullied flesh would melt" (Act One Scene Two)
        • Elizabethan ideas on madness = stage of deep melancholy would have been viewed as madness.
    • True to the conventions of a revenge tragedy?
      • Madness was already well established in Elizabethan revenge tragedies e.g. 'The Spanish Tragedy' BUT Shakespeare elevates and modifies this by making it uncertain.
      • Ophelia - Depiction of Hamlet he "falls to such perusal of my face as a' would draw it" and the state of his clothes.
        • Clear breach of upper class protocol, appears to show he is aware of his feigned madness.
      • Hamlet "fit to put on an antic disposition"
        • Appears to show the revenge hero anticipating his madness.


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