Hamlet critical anthology summary: Mack: Tragedy and Madness

1. What does madness often seem to be? -A form of divine punishment but also brings with it special insight and freedom to speak the truth
2. What does Mack argue that madness and art allow? -freedom of speech but that their insights may be dismissed as merely fiction or nonsense
3. What does Mack argue madness is in Hamlet? -“Madness is to some degree a punishment or doom.”
4. Where can this best be referenced? -In Hamlet’s apology before his dual with Laertes, “you must needs have heard, how I am punish’d / with a sore distraction.”
5. What else does Mack argue in relation to madness? Consider Ophelia’s madness “Ophelia, mad, is able to make awards of flowers to the king and the Queen which are appropriate of the frailties of which she cannot be supposed to have conscious knowledge.”
6. What does Mack argue about Hamlet’s madness? -That it is a “guise” at first which gives him the liberty to comment on and to characters
7. Provide an example of this -“You’re a fishmonger.”
8. Provide a quote from Mack on Hamlet’s madness -“Hamlet can be privileged in madness to say things- Hamlet about the corruption of human nature…which Shakespeare could not have risked..”
9. Provide a quote from Mack on the predicament of artists -“the predicament of the artist – Shakespeare himself, perhaps – who having been given the power to see the ‘truth’, can convey it only through poetry – what we commonly call a ‘fiction’ and dismiss”

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