The Triggers of Madness: Hamlet AnalysisIn Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, there are only two female characters—Ophelia and Gertrude. Both female characters are seen as frail and dependent on men; while, the male characters throughout Hamlet are depicted as independent beings that possess their own power. Hamlet’s interactions with Gertrude, his mother, and Ophelia, his love, are filled with mixed signals of his affections towards each of them. Though the women seem to be insignificant pawns in the world of Hamlet, they are essential to the method of his madness. Without Ophelia and Gertrude Hamlet’s plan of acting mad to seek vengeance for his deceased father would have faltered because it is with Ophelia and Gertrude that the actions of Hamlet become paralleled—when he interacts with them he is a wise, belligerent, fool.
Ophelia and Gertrude are the triggers of Hamlet’s seeming madness.Hamlet is a well-educated man. He does not act without thought—he is not impulsive. Everything he does has a purpose. Hamlet knows both Ophelia and Gertrude like the back of his hand and he plays them like fiddle. However, it is the actions of both ladies that cause him to react— using vicious insults to their femininity.
When Gertrude remarries the kings brother, Claudius, so quickly after the king being “but two months dead” Hamlet becomes frustrated; he cannot fathom how hastily Gertrude replaced the throne as well as her loyalty that belonged to Hamlet’s father. It is early in the play we see Hamlet’s perception of women: “Frailty” is thy name (1.2.138 and 145). The way men perceive their mothers is the way they perceive all women. This notion proves true throughout Hamlet; due to Gertrude’s brash incestuous remarriage, Hamlet perceived his mo.
.ss. They misplaced their loyalties altering Hamlets perception of women into sexual pawns in the method of his madness. There are only to women in Hamlet; they are portrayed as weak and insignificant beings that are dependent on men. However, Gertrude and Ophelia are significant because they are the cause and triggers of Hamlet’s madness. Without Gertrude and Ophelia, Hamlet would not be.
It is said that the women in Hamlet hold no power, but they do. Their actions and loyalties to other men cause Hamlet to react in a manner in which his views of women are depicted and his madness is evident. It is through his paralleled interactions with both women that we see his madness ignited. Because of Gertrude being “her husband brothers wife” Hamlet felt betrayed by women—even “fair” Ophelia (3.4.14).
It is the “frailty” of women the triggers the madness in Hamlet (1.2.145).