12 December 2013 Madness Madness is highly driven by emotions and can be triggered psychologically. When people reach the state of “madness,” they are known to be at the point of insanity. Usually something happens, such as an event that possibly hits close to home and is traumatic, and triggers certain types of emotions that it eventually blurs the reality of most situations. To give examples of characters that may be deemed to be “mad,” Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and Hamlet by William Shakespeare will be used in which the protagonists in the story and the play will be examined. In the story of Don Quixote, Alonso Quijano’s madness is driven by his desire for chivalry. Being retired, he spends much of his time reading novels on chivalry that he begins to believe the fictitious stories being told are in fact actually true and not made up. He decides to set out on a journey to revive this chivalry under the pseudonym of Don Quixote and asks for his neighbor, Sancho, to come along with him as his squire. In the play Hamlet, the route of Hamlet’s madness becomes questionable. Some people believe his madness stems from his father’s passing or to his love for a woman by the name of Ophelia, but his “madness” is caused when he sees his father’s ghost who reveals to him the true story behind his death, who is then asked to avenge his father’s death. Although these two characters may seemingly be seen as similar due to their madness, they are, however, in fact different. I believe Hamlet, to some extent, is “mad,” but not to the extent of suffering madness that is seen as insanity, whereas Don Quixote’s madness is insanity. My reasoning is that for Hamlet to not be suffering from the same madness is the fact that he just suffered the loss of his father whom he really loved. He mentions about his father saying, “He was a man, take him for all in all, / I shall not look upon his like again” (Shakespeare, 1.2.87-88). This shows the type of man his father was to him and how much he meant to him. When someone truly loves and cares about another person and they pass away, it takes a toll on them as it did with Hamlet.
When his father’s ghost told him that his uncle was the one that killed his father and to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,” (Shakespeare, 1.5.25) Hamlet’s response to the situation was “The time is out of joint: O cursèd spite, / That ever I was born to set it right!” (Shakespeare, 1.5.88-89) This response shows Hamlet’s character that he was not the type of person to kill, but it was to be done to honor his father. Especially in that time period and being a royal, honoring someone and fulfilling this duty was seen as highly significant and important. Hamlet even tells his friends after speaking with his father’s ghost the first time that though he may act a little strange in the near future to not speak of the sighting of the ghost.
Knowing that his uncle had killed his father adds to the fuel that already is there when his uncle married his mother about a month after his father’s death. Though throughout the play Hamlet is plagued with trying to kill his uncle, I found him to be a little hesitant with going through with the act despite his dislike for him. At one point in the play, Hamlet says, “O, from this time forth, / My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!” (Shakespeare, 4.4.65-66) He speaks of the soldiers of Norway and how they can march to their death for trying to fight over a small worthless piece of land, and how he cannot even go about to getting the deed done. He has to remind himself that and reinforce this idea of “killing,” which leads to him allowing or, rather, trying to have only violent thoughts so he can kill his uncle and honor his father properly. Don Quixote, on the other hand, seems to be brainwashed by the novels he had read in his library on chivalry. He does not even go by his own name and throughout his journey he pretends to…