William Shakespeare's writings have left many readers pondering what the actual meanings of his plays are, and why the characters act in a certain manner. In Hamlet, a great deal of scholarly detective work has been done to unravel the unique complexity of his text, such as, why Ophelia became mad. There were many factors that could have led to Ophelia's insanity. Carroll Camden believed that Ophelia's madness was induced by the death of her father, Hamlet's denied love for her, Polonius's orders for her not to make contact with Hamlet, the lectures given to her from Laertes and Polonius, Hamlet's indication that Ophelia was responsible for his madness, and his many insults (253). All these occurrences stimulated Ophelia's madness and caused her to take her own life.
The first reason that may have provoked Ophelia's madness was through the conversations she had with her brother. In Act I, Scene III, Laertes diminished Ophelia's self-confidence by telling her that Hamlet's love for her will not last forever.
He also tried to advise her not to be mesmerized by Hamlet's charm. Being a respectful sister, she kept Laertes's advice in consideration.
Similarly, Polonius destroys Ophelia's dignity, "Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,/ Unsifted in such perilous circumstance (I. iii. 107-8)." He calls her an immature girl, inexperienced in foolish matters. Ophelia defends her love for Hamlet, "He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me... My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honourable fashion... And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven (I. iii. 105-20)." Ophelia's responses opposed her father's negative remarks about Hamlet. She is persuaded that their love is true. Polonius then frightens her, "Ay, springes to catch...