While Shakespeare does not directly pit Ophelia’s insanity (or breakdown) against Hamlet’s madness, there is instead a clear definitiveness in Ophelia’s condition and aclear uncertainty in Hamlet’s madness.Obviously, Hamlet’s character offers more evidence, while Ophelia’s breakdown is quick, but more conclusive in its precision.
It is the ghost of Hamlet’s father who tells him, “but howsomever thou pursues this act, / Taintnot thy mind.
(I.v.84-5)” Later, when Hamlet sees the ghost again in his mothers room, her amazement at his madness is quite convincing.
confirm the reader’s suspicion that she did not die so accidentally: Here lies the water; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes, mark you that.
But if the water cometo him and drown him, he drowns not himself; argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
(15-20)Ophelia’s breakdown into madness and inability to deal with her father’s death and Hamlet’s rejection is dealt with neatly and punctually.
There is little evidence againsther madness, compared to Hamlet’s intelligent plotting and use of witnesses to his actions.
As Hamlet tells Guildenstern in , “I am but mad north-north-west: when thewind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” This statement reveals out-right Hamlet’s intent to fool people with his odd behavior.
This is after Polonius’enlightened comment earlier in the same scene, “though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”Compare the copious evidence against Hamlet’s madness with the complete lack of evidence for Ophelia’s sanity after her father’s murder.
Indeed, Hamlet’s utter rejection of her combined with this is too much for her, and she doesn’t sing amourning song at the beginning of IV.v, but rather a happy love song.
While the Queen tells Leartes that an “envious sliver” broke and flung Ophelia into the river wearing a headdress of wild-flowers (compare the mad Lear’s crown ofweeds), the clowns in V.i.