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Zbarskaya 1 Prompt: One definition of madness is "mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it.

" But Emily Dickinson wrote: Much madness is divinest/Sense-To a discerning Eye. Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a "discerning Eye." Select a novel or play in which a character's apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the "madness" to the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

Regina Zbarskaya AP Literature Ms. Wilson November 14, 2013

I have read and understand the sections in the Student Handbook regarding Mason High School's Honesty/Cheating Policy. By affixing this statement to the title page of my paper, I am certifying that I have not cheated or plagiarized in the process of completing this assignment. If it is found that cheating and/or plagiarism did take place in the writing of this paper, I understand the possible consequences of the act, which could include a "0" on the paper, as well as an "F" as a final grade in the course.

Zbarskaya 2 The state of Denmark is pervaded with rot; Gertrude has blatantly forsaken her deceased husband in favor of another, Claudius has murdered the previous king, Hamlet senior, Hamlet junior has murdered Claudiuss Lord Chamberlain, Polonius, and Ophelia has been driven to insanity by the events around her. Yet it is Ophelias madness, in William Shakespeares, that reveals the degree to which Denmark has become rotten, illustrating the swiftness and severity corruption can achieve and the illumination that madness can bring. Ophelia is initially portrayed as a devoted daughter who naively follows the words of those around her. Polonius first ordered Ophelia not to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet for his vows were mere implorators of unholy suits (1.3.129, 134). Ophelia wholeheartedly followed the advice of her father replying meekly, I shall obey, my lord and without any hesitation proceeded to cut off contact with Hamlet (1.3.137). Ophelias devotion to her family was further reinforced through Poloniuss comment to Claudius and Gertrude on Ophelias duty and obedience (2.2.107). However, Ophelia transforms from an innocent daughter to a lonely, deranged individual after her fathers death. No longer meek and sincere, she cuts off Gertrude with a Pray you, mark and proceeds to sing (4.5.35). Ophelias action of singing is starkly different from her original behavior; she previously engaged in humble conversation, replying tolerantly I was the more deceived to Hamlet after he insulted her, yet now sings a disreputable song about a maid that entered a mans quarters and out a maid never departed more to the effect that even Claudius exclaimed, Pretty Ophelia! (4.5.53-56). The corruption in Denmark has quickly spread from Claudiuss betrayal, to Gertrudes desertion, Hamlets murder and finally, to the innocent Ophelia, naively following her fathers and brothers advice. Unlike the others, Ophelia has committed no immoral acts; therefore the corruption only affects her physically. She is importunate, indeed distract and spurns

Zbarskaya 3 enviously at straws, (4.5.2,6) yet she feels no fault of her own as she gives out rue, signifying both repentance and pity, delineating the others must wear [their] rue with a difference in regards to repentance (4.5.174-175). Although corruption manifests itself in different forms, it has still affected everyone, including the innocent Ophelia. Ophelias distribution of flowers to the others serves as a final indication of the deteriorating state of Denmark. All of the flowers that Ophelia hands out represent the faults that lie within each individual that has led to their corruption and reflect the breach of relationships that has occurred between these people leading to the descent of Denmark into chaos. There are no stage directions as to who Ophelia gives the flowers to; therefore, it can be assumed that the flowers can apply to multiple people. She gives rosemary, thats for remembrance and pansies, thats for thoughts but does not specify the recipient (4.5.170-171). These flowers can apply to everyone in the room; to Gertrude, who so quickly disregarded her husband, to Claudius who was quick to step over his brother in his haste to the throne, and Laertes, who is rashly pursing thoughts of revenge without thinking of his dear sister. All the people in the room are guilty of throwing someone aside and acting without thinking. Ophelia also distributes fennels and columbines, representing flattery and ingratitude (4.5.173). She presumably presents them to Claudius, for he is guilty of assuming the throne in desire of adulation, and is condemned for his ingratitude towards his previous position as the brother of the king. Finally, Ophelia presents rue to the others, and as mentioned before, rue has a double meaning. She specifically states that they must wear [their] rue with a difference, reminding them that repentance is what they are missing (4.5.173). The final two flowers, daisy and violets, are not given out to anyone. Ophelia mentions that theres a daisy, but does not hand it to anyone

Zbarskaya 4 (4.5.175). Daisies signify dissembling; the appearance of a daisy in the scene stands as a final reminder that Denmark is dissembling. Although Ophelia has been deemed of madness, she displays a shocking revelation of truth. Madness can be defined as eccentric behavior, and Ophelias erratic singing fits this description. However, madness can also be defined as a divinest sense with the ability to determine right from wrong (Howes). Compared to the others, Ophelia is the only one who has not lost her sense of right and wrong and is able to thoroughly analyze the source of the devastation that has occurred around her. Madness gives Ophelia the ability to discern what is happening to the people around her, yet it also prevents her from effectively communicating with those people. She sees the corruption but cannot do anything about it and is further forced into a solitary state that eventually leads to her death. Ophelia is not the only one to suffer. The people are being pulled apart by the lies and corruption that is spreading from within and Denmark is falling apart. Ophelia mentions that she would give the others some violets, but they withered all away, indicating that the faithfulness that the people had to one another has disappeared and they are left with nothing but corruption (4.5.175). Ophelias madness reveals the source of the destruction is incorrigible for each person has been corrupted by their own desires without thought for others. Corruption has spread quickly and Denmark has reached the end of its reign.

Zbarskaya 5 Works Cited Howes, Ryan. "The Definition of Insanity." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 27 July 2009. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <>. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Literature & Composition: Reading, Writing, Thinking. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. 720-830. Print.