Even after the King’s guilt is proven with Horatio aswitness, Hamlet again reflects and uses his better judgement in the soliloquy at the end of He recognizes his passionate feelings, but tellshimself to “speak daggers to her, but use none,” as his father’s ghost instructed.
Again, when in the King’s chamber, Hamlet could perform the murder, but decides notto in his better judgement to ensure that he doesn’t go to heaven by dying while praying.
Hamlet’s actions in the play after meeting the ghost lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy, yet that madness is continuously checked by an ever-presentconsciousness of action which never lets him lose control.
For example, Hamlet questions his conduct in his soliloquy at the end of II.ii, but after careful considerationdecides to go with his instinct and prove to himself without a doubt the King’s guilt before proceeding rashly.
Clearly Hamlet is not feeling cheerful at this moment, but if helets the guards know the severity of the news, they might suspect its nature.
Another instance of Hamlet’s behavior manipulation is his meeting with Ophelia while hisuncle and Polonius are hiding behind a curtain.
As Horatio says, being the only of theguards to play a significant role in the rest of the play, “Before my God, I might not this believe / Without the sensible and true avouch / Of mine own eyes.
(I.i.56-8)”Horatio, who appears frequently throughout the play, acts as an unquestionably sane alibi to Hamlet again when framing the King with his reaction to the play.
In both Hamlet and King Lear, Shakespeare incorporates a theme of madness with two characters: one truly mad, and one only acting mad to serve a motive. This paper argues that the contrapuntal character in each play, namely Ophelia in Hamlet and Edgar in King Lear, acts as abalancing argument to the other character’s madness or sanity.
King Lear’s more decisive distinction between Lear’s frailty of mind and Edgar’s contrived madnessworks to better define the relationship between Ophelia’s breakdown and Hamlet’s “north-north-west” brand of insanity.