ophelia’s madness

When I was reading Hamlet, and Hamlet was going “mad” it all made sense to me. If I found out that my uncle killed my father so that he could be king and marry my mother, I’d go for real mad, I wouldn’t act mad. But it wasn’t Hamlet’s going mad that confused me, it was Ophelia’s. She didn’t seem like a very prominent character in the play to me. But when she goes mad, it was like as if the whole play changed. Because she died, all of the characters changed too. But my question is, why? Why did Ophelia go mad? Was it because of Hamlet? It’s something that is going to remain unanswered I feel like. When she starts singing to Gertrude,

How should I your true love know

  From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
  And his sandal shoon.”
All I keep wondering is, is she talking about Hamlet here? I think that maybe they did sleep together, or at least they did something. Because that makes sense, if they had a sexual relationship, and then Hamlet left to keep being “mad” it very well could have made Ophelia go insane. When she died, she does so with flowers of fertility around her. Maybe she found out that she was pregnant with Hamlet’s child, and wound up killing herself because of this madness inside of her.
“So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.”
I feel that she was saying here that she would have graciously been with hamlet, if he hadn’t snuck into her bed with her.
I tried to research if the two had had that sexual relationship but all the research that I had found was opinion based. I truly think that they may have slept together and perhaps it is why they are both insane.
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One thought on “ophelia’s madness

  1. sabrinabyrne

    This is a very interesting take on Ophelia’s innocence. We have only spoke about her being pure in our class discussion so this really stands out to me. It is hard to say whether or not Ophelia and Hamlet did sleep together, but Shakespeare does give subtle hints, as you noted, that could lead to the conclusion that they were in bed together. I am not sure about the pregnancy idea, but I guess it’s safe to say it could have happened.

    Reply

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