In the play The Tragedy of Macbeth, insanity reveals itself in the form of Macbeth’s deranged behavior. “Shakespeare, occasionally…represents abnormal conditions of mind; insanity, for example, somnambulism, hallucinations. And deeds issuing from these are certainly not what we called deeds in the fullest sense, deeds expressive of character. No; but these abnormal conditions are never introduced as the origin of deeds of any dramatic moment. Macbeth did not murder Duncan because he saw a dagger in the air: he saw the dagger because he was about to murder Duncan” (Bradley 13). Some of the symptoms Macbeth confronts include guilt, insanity, and insomnia. Macbeth transmutes from being ...view middle of the document...
Hamlet’s character is absolutely more intricate when compared to Macbeth. Hamlet only occasionally shows his madness; he shows his madness so that he can say and do whatever he wants and is able to get away with it. For instance, Hamlet is able to reprimand the marriage of his mother and uncle without any consequences, “A little more than kin and less than kind” (1.2.65). Hamlet also gets away with calling Polonius derogatory terms such as a “fishmonger” (2.2.175) and “a tedious old fool” (2.2.215). Hamlet even admits to Laertes that his madness is “poor Hamlet's enemy” (5.2.226).
“It is a totally different thing from the madness which he feigns; and he never, when alone or in company with Horatio alone, exhibits the signs of that madness” (Bradley 121). Hamlet reveals his trust in Horatio when he says, “Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man / As e’er my conversation coped withal” (3.2.46-47). Hamlet speaks with impartial thoughts as he tells Horatio:
Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan’s stithy (3.2.73-77).
Hamlet puts on a facade of madness only around others, so that they assume his madness is driven by a specific reason, which Hamlet can feel free to act illogically and profess his actual thoughts about everyone. Hamlet assures his mother and uncle that his madness is caused by their rushed marriage and his being upset over his father’s death. However, since they cannot find out the actual reason for his behavior, Claudius and Gertrude send Hamlet’s friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out....