How does Queen Gertrude describe Hamlet's madness in act 5 scene 1?

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Rebecca Owens eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene depicts Hamlet's reaction to Leartes' leaping with grief into Ophelia's grave. After he and Leartes scuffle over Ophelia's dead body (literally) his mother, the queen says the following:


This is mere madness:
And thus a while the fit will work on him;
Anon, as patient as the female dove,
When that her golden couplets are disclos'd,
His silence will sit drooping.

[end quote]

Basically what she is saying here is in defense of her son's outrageous behavior. She claims that his actions are but a fit of madness, and that when the moment has passed, when he has had time to reflect upon the matter, he will be much more calm and even regret his rashness. So, in effect, his "madness" is a temporary thing that can pass when he is calm.

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