Hamlet and Ophelia are linked by many common characteristics, not
the least of which is their madness. While Hamlet's madness seems to
be feigned, Ophelia is truly crazy. The odd thing about their
predicament is that they each drive each other more fully into the
depths of illness.
One of Hamlet's most famous lines is when he tells the Queen: "Seems,
madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'" Hamlet is saying that he does
not know what it is to pretend, he only knows what it is to be. This is the
main question surrounding Hamlet in the play, is he feigning his
madness, or is it real? After confronting the Ghost, Hamlet tells his friends
that he is going to act mad in public, and that they should not worry for
he is not really crazy at all. There is a common belief in these days that
when someone tells a lie and firmly believes it they start to live that lie.
Maybe this is true with Hamlet- he acts truly mad in public (even his
mother believes it) that possibly he acts mad in private too.
After Polonius tells Ophelia to repel Hamlet's letters, Hamlet enters
Ophelia's room and looks at her with such a piteous and saddened
face that even Ophelia begins to think there is something wrong with
him. Shortly after that Hamlet encounters Polonius in a corridor and
harasses him and says crazy things. In an aside Polonius says, "Though
this be madness, yet there is method in't." In another famous line,
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ask Hamlet about his madness, and he
replies, "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know
a hawk from a handsaw."
In the beginning Hamlet says he does not know how to pretend, so...