Wasting Away in Denmark: Of Course There's a Woman to Blame

William Shakespeare's Hamlet, says renowned pundit of literature, Harold Bloom, "is unsurpassed in the West's imaginative literature" (Bloom 384). Surely, its story, style, and many famous lines have transcended time and place to such an extent that even upon a first reading, the play may seem familiar. Humanity remains transfixed upon the Prince of Denmark, who is simultaneously incomparably intelligent, melancholy, uncommitted, witty, introspective, and unbalanced. The poor guy, as is commonly known, is commanded by the ghost of his father to seek revenge on his uncle for committing regicide/fratricide and marrying his mother. Added to this, Hamlet finds that the love of his life is suddenly and inexplicably shunning him, at a time when he needs the most support. While Hamlet does purposely assume an "antic disposition" (1.5.181) in order to discern his uncle's culpability, I contend that the only true madness Hamlet experiences is caused by Ophelia.

Clearly, this idea originates with Polonius, who after talking to Ophelia about Hamlet's recent oddities and confirming that she has not seen him or accepted his letters (per her father's request), decides "that hath made him mad"...

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