Madness in Shakespeare's Hamlet Madness may be mental incapacity caused by an unmentionable injury. Such wounds often are not easily perceived but may be revealed in time of stress. Hamlets question, have you a daughter?(Act II. Sc2 182) Polonius about the Princes emotional state. What is hidden will surely be told to Cloudius by his adviser.
Laertes search for revenge is sharper proof that madness in degrees of publicity causes harm to the observers. Claudius promise no wind of blame(Act IV, Sc.7,66) once Laertes kills Hamlet; perhaps this is what the uncle has sought all along for himself. Ophelia has a unique, very powerful form of madness; she seems caught as a bakers daughter,"(Act IV, Sc. 5, 42) between memories of her father and Hamlet who ought have spokedn to her of events on Valentines day."(Act IV, Sc 5, 48) She is doubly hexed and the madness she has infects the whole court. Once a persons mental state has been studied in public, there is no telling the injuries which may affect the viewers.
Ever since the death of King Hamlet young Hamlet has been what appeared to be in a state of madness. In a discussion between Hamlet and Polonius Hamlet questions Polonius by asking him have you a daughter.(Act II, Sc.2, 182) In this discussion Hamlet shows antic behavior towards Polonius by mocking him when Hamlet would usually show great respect for him because of he age and heis high position in the court. This sudden question to Polonius has caused Polonius to believe that Hamlet has a form of love-sickness and that Polonius is sure to tell Claudius of his condition. Hamlet also accuses Polonius of being the Jephthah, judge of Israel,(Act II,Sc.2, 399) meaning that Polonius would put his country in front of his daughter. Hamlet has now convinced Polonius that he is in a state of madness because he knows that Polonius cares for his daughter very much and would never put her second.
By convincing Polonius that he has no consideration for the well-being of others, Hamlet is then hoping that Polonius will tell the court of his emotional madness. Unlike Hamlet, Laertes has developed a different kind of madness, a madness that is controlled by revenge. When Laertes is talking to Claudius, Laertes gets so much revenge building up inside him against Hamlet that Laertes now wants to cut his throat.(Act 4,Sc.7,125) Laertes behavior is caused by the sudden death of his father who was without a due ceremony, and his sister who has been driven mad, has contributed to the madness that is being built up inside Laertes. This madness grows even stronger when Claudius promises no wind of blame(Act IV.Sc7,66) when Laertes kills Hamlet. With Claudius being the puppet holder and Laertes being the puppet, Claudius turns Laertes into a savage beast to avenge for his fathers' death; perhaps this is what the Claudius has planned all along. Laertes has a form of madness that is escalating because Laertes knows that he has the capabilities and motivation to act on what he believes on.
Ophelia has a unique form of madness unlike Hamlets and Laertes because it a mixture of love and hate. An example of hate is when she sings about a baker's daughter.(Act IV,Sc.5,42) Ophelia is referring to the way her father used to treat her before the tragic incident of his death. A love within her madness is when she speaks about the events on Valentines day.(Act IV, Sc.5,48) When Ophelia speaks about Valentines day she is referring to the events of romance that she was denied. Ophelias madness is brought on by her lack of being able to demonstrate any maturity in trying to cope with her losses and in return can only inflict her madness on the court. By stating that Hamlet could have controlled his fraudulent madness, he then had the capability of controlling his conscious mind into acting traditional. Where Laertes was very influential by others and had no real control over the mental state he was developing by the sway of Claudius.
Ophelia was the most innocent victim of all because she was the side affect of everyone elses actions and had no idea that she was mentally disintegrating. It can be noticed that within each of these three people there can be no reassurance on what the affect they may have on others due to their mental state in public.