Though This Be Madness Yet There Be — страница 3

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And there I see such black and grained spots As will not leave their tinct” (676). Shakespeare was masterful when it came to tying strands of the plot together using insanity. Edgar s “Poor Tom” act not only preserved his life, but in doing so, it allowed him to right some of the wrongs caused by Edmond. Gloucester would not have been open to Edgar s care after being blinded, but he was grateful to accept the company and guidance of “Tom”. As “Tom”, Edgar was able to not only prevent his father s attempted suicide, but to snap him out of the despair and self pity he was trapped in (966). Furthermore, the persona of “Poor Tom” allowed Edgar to be alive to duel with Edmond at the very end of the play. Edmond admits his wrongs (”What you have charged me with,

Page 9 that have I done, And more much more.” (972)), and attempts to stop Cordelia s hanging before he dies. Ophelia s drowning, a tragedy that would likely not have occurred had she not gone mad, deeply affected both Hamlet and Laertes, causing them both to be eager to duel when a duel was proposed. This very duel was to conclude with Hamlet finally taking action and avenging his father s murder. In turn, Claudius would likely have been more suspicious of Hamlet and have attempted to murder him more quickly than he did had he not felt pity for Hamlet s evident madness. Thus, several strands of the story are interwoven, all leading to the climactic death scene that ends the tragedy. In short, madness in Shakespeare, particularly in Shakespearean tragedy, is never what it

appeared to be on the surface. It is always a vital aspect of the plot, interwoven throughout, having layer upon layer of meaning. Polonius was uncannily accurate when he stated of Hamlet “Though this be madness, . . . there is method in t”; on a broader scope, that very sentiment can be applied to all of Shakespeare s applications of madness, and not just to the character Hamlet. There is a method Page 10 and a meaning for every incidence of insanity, and indeed, often more than one. Insights we might glean from an examination of these meanings are among Shakespeare s lasting gifts to us, even many hundreds of years later. This is a profound gift, and one to be treasured. Work Cited Wells and Taylor. William Shakespeare The Complete Works. New York: Oxford University Press,

1988.