What would a cartoon of Hamlet’s madness look like? If his madness is thus personified, what is it like? Clearly, the picture that Hamlet is painting of this split self, this madness that took him over, features a madness who does terrible things. Is it a kind of devil? A mischievous Puck?
Is it a Richard the Third or an Edmund the Bastard? An Iago? Or an Aaron?
That is, is it a purposeful villain or an accidental wrong-doing sprite?
Madness, as it appears in other characters, seems to largely involve singing and rhyming. Not just in this play either.
I’m not sure how much singing actually happens in actual madness. The madness I’ve witnessed featured almost NO singing and the singing I’ve witnessed has tended to be in non-mad situations. I have sung TO the mad in attempts to soothe them – but the mad almost never sing back. The only exception that comes to mind was a woman in my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s unit. She sang pretty much anything she wanted to say. She didn’t sing songs so much as intone her desire, “Where is my pillow please?”
She also stripped off her top without warning with some regularity and attempted to eat her lunch topless. Personally, I’d have let her eat naked if it made her happy but they frown on that sort of thing in geriatric care units.
Anyway – that was her madness. It didn’t do people wrong so much as make her awkward to share a meal with.