| Quote #7
What's striking about this passage is the fact that Hamlet is the only one who can see and hear the Ghost when it appears in Gertrude's bedroom. (Earlier in the play, the castle guards and Horatio could see the spirit but Hamlet is the only one who has ever spoken with it.) So, what's going on here? What's changed? One possible explanation is that the Ghost chooses to appear only to Hamlet. (This kind of thing is common in the literature of the period.) Another possibility is that Hamlet's the only one who can see the Ghost here because it's a figment of his imagination, which would mean that Hamlet has broken down and has lost his mind.
| Quote #8
This is an incredibly interesting passage. In the previous passage, Hamlet tells Gertrude that he isn't crazy but he asks her to lie and tell Claudius that he is in fact mad. As we can see here, Gertrude tells the king that Hamlet's as "mad as the sea and wind." Why does she do this? Is she trying to protect her son by lying to Claudius? Or, does she really think Hamlet's gone off the deep end? Where do Gertrude's loyalties lie at this point in the play?
| Quote #9
[…] poor Ophelia
When Ophelia enters a room in the castle in Act IV, scene v singing seemingly nonsensical songs, it's obvious she has gone mad. Ophelia's clear mental deterioration, then, seems to stand in stark contrast to Hamlet's feigned madness.
But what causes Ophelia to go mad? The easy answer is that she loses her mind because her ex-boyfriend has murdered her father. But, the issue seems to be much more complex. Several critics suggest that Ophelia "cracks" under patriarchal pressure, which seems to make a lot of sense. Throughout the play, Ophelia is ordered around by her brother and her father and has no control over her social or love life. Her own father uses her carelessly in order to spy on Hamlet, which leads to Hamlet's ruthless attack on Ophelia's "honesty." These issues have major implications for the play's portrayal of "Gender," so be sure to check it out.