Eyes, Madness and Soul- TAPoR

For my last and final blog post, I cannot seem to hide my excitement about breaking my relationship with TAPoR. Our Hamlet and Ophelia type relationship is not a healthy one; it is filled with a lot of anger and resentment. It is really for the best that we part ways so we can live out our literary careers in peace and happiness. It is a good day. J

As it is my last blog, my team and I have decided to dissect Hamlet’s mental state. I have stated previously that Act 3 is where all the action happens and where most of the “is he crazy or not” debate occurs. In Act 1 Hamlet says he intends to put on an “antic disposition” but as the play progresses, the debate I struggle with is, “has he gone mad?”

This debate is a very iconic and most studied while reading Hamlet. That being said, I put TAPoR to work to see if we can pin point his madness and is downward spiral. When I ran searches for “madness” and “mad” in my concordance tool the words that surrounded the word were mainly questions about his madness. The main point I have picked out from my searches is that not only the reader is stumped by Hamlet’s madness but the characters are as well.

Another point of interest for me was that “madness” and “mad” was also fallowed by the word “soul”. This is my second step into the process, looking up “soul”, “heaven” and “devil” or any words of the like. This is search made me do a happy dance while my results were something completely unexpected. I found (or I’ll let TAPoR get the credit for this one) that madness and mad is fallowed by soul. A HUGE point of interest for me since, mental health or any type of health care, came after Shakespeare’s time. Madness is linked to soul, which is linked to devil or heaven, which is linked back to madness. Yes, I know… a lot of links to fallow but once you are on a roll, you just, well, roll.

Since I am on a roll now I keep pulling at the treads and it is going somewhere fantastic!!! (This needs a second happy dance). From what I already know from my previously taken history classes, is that mental health was seen as a foreign entity that possessed the body. It was not commonly believed that a person had problems with his head or was sick, it was another entity disrupting ones body. The line that doesn’t speak it clearer is, “…madness. There is something in his soul…”

Another link between soul and madness is eyes. This word is used 7 times within the act and for me that is significant. Most of us hear the saying that the “eyes are the window to the soul” and by my research I think Shakespeare was playing with that saying. I found it extremely fascinating that “eyes” came up during Act 3 scene 4. This part of the act is when I actually think Hamlet breaks into real madness, and the eyes are used over and over while he is talking to Gertrude.

After weeks of work, blood, sweat and tears I can say I did learn a lot from this experience. Going into a class where computers play a main role was terrifying to say the lease but on the other hand extremely rewarding after my nerves have calmed down. My last search did show me that it is a lot easier and quicker doing these searches by a computer then by hand. That being said, I still am working on at least getting on a friends status with TAPoR. Enjoy

2 thoughts on “Eyes, Madness and Soul- TAPoR

  1. “…madness. There is something in his soul…” – I love this selection you pulled from Act III. You are absolutely right! I too, whilst reading Hamlet, found that Act III was the pivotal point in the play in which the truth of his madness can most be unraveled. There isn’t much I can add, but kudos on your findings and the linkages between the three key words “eyes,” “madness” and “soul.” Is the third act the single act in which each of these words occur together the most frequently? Did your group, particularly MONK, perhaps look into comparing these three words used in any of Shakespeare’s other tragedies or comedies? What do you suppose the different indications would be to finding a similarly high usage of “soul” and “eyes” in one of his comedies?
    I’m excited to see your presentation, the mystery surrounding Hamlet’s madness is undoubtedly my favourite aspect to the play!

  2. I like the relation to the relationship to you and TAPoR compared to Ophelia and Hamlet, although I think Hamlet treated Ophelia better than TAPoR treated you. Its extremely interesting to see how the soul and a person going mad is related to each other, and I would have never thought of linking the use of the words eyes to the condition of his soul. I wonder if there were any conections to his soul and the other senses?

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