What is the Cause?


Hamlets perceived insane love for Ophelia in the text stems from his encounter with his father’s ghost.  We first see his instability when his father’s ghost speaks to him and it continues to progress as time passes and Ophelia’s recent rejection ordered by her father. Hamlet comes into Ophelia’s room frightened after his encounter with his father’s ghost and she describes his exit: “He seemed to find his way without his eyes, For out o’ doors he went without their helps, And to the last bended their light on me.” When Ophelia uses the word “seemed” she is showing us her uncertainness in the evens that have just occurred. Alongside that she says that Hamlet left without his eyes implying some form of autopilot or sense of being lost and hopeless. He was with Ophelia and showed no romantic feelings for her in the immediate instance after encountering his father’s ghost. From this the reader can take that the ghost is what has caused Hamlet’s perceived insanity. Imagine encountering a dead parent’s ghost I think that would allow for a little bit of unstableness; the rest of the cast of Hamlet appears oblivious to this event labels his instability mad love for Ophelia.

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2 comments

  1. I definitely agree that the source of Prince Hamlet’s flustered mind is the encounter with King Hamlet’s ghost. Both in the writing and especially the film representations of the Hamlets’ meeting, it is clear that Prince Hamlet feels a combination of terror and amazement. It is this terror and amazement that I feel has characterized father-son relationships for all of human history. I believe that Shakespeare was really trying to portray how much emotional power a father has over his son, emphasizing the son’s desire to please his father and his fear to fail a man he considers almost god-like. I thought this was shown most clearly in the Laurence Olivier version, with Prince Hamlet’s jaw open in astonishment and kneeling before the smoky figure. Another thing to note is that the burden of planning revenge would undoubtedly make any man seem distant, his mind preoccupied. And with Prince Hamlet’s father dead, it would be impossible for any of the other characters to guess what could be the cause of his disheveled mental state.

  2. I agree that Old Hamlet’s ghost is one of the causes of Prince Hamlet’s insanity. On one hand, it is shocking to see the ghost of a person who you were close to. On the other hand, it is even more startling when the ghost of this person told you that he was not died from natural causes but was murdered. In addition, I think the abrupt change in Hamlet’s family structure also contributed to his insanity. Almost all people would agree that marrying your brother’s wife is incestuous and unethical. It made Hamlet hard to believe that this just happened in the royal family. The inappropriate timing of the wedding of his mother and his uncle did not offer him a chance to recover from the grief of his father’s death. So, together with the lack of the support of his beloved Ophelia, the probability of he getting a nervous breakdown is dangerously high.

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