28 November 2017
The Progression of Hamlet’s Insanity
In the play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, the question of Hamlet’s sanity is an
essential part in the development of the storyline. There is no certainty regarding Hamlet’s
insanity, but only arguments on whether or not he was genuinely insane. Some argue that
throughout the play Hamlet completely fakes his insanity as part of his plan for vengeance.
However, I believe Hamlet progressively loses his sense of reality as a result of his ongoing
depression and his pretending to be insane, which is exemplified in the world today in various
ways such as in the apparent insanity of the Batman series’ Heath Ledger.
Throughout Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”, Prince Hamlet slowly develops depressive
and suicidal tendencies following the death of his father. In the world today, depression is
perceived as the most significant cause of psychological disorders, which reveals how Hamlet’s
depression could have so directly contributed to his insanity in the play. Hamlet’s increasingly
growing depression is evident through the first two acts, and parallels the dark and hopeless
mindset that depressed people still endure in modern times. This is clearly exhibited when
Hamlet says “O God, God how weary, stale flat and unprofitable seems to me all the uses of this
world” (I.ii. 136-138), revealing his lack of personal purpose in his life. Just as in the world
today, this is an extremely dangerous mindset, because it often leads to suicide and eventually
insanity. Later on in the play, it is evident that Hamlet's depression has further escalated when he
says “And spur my dull revenge! What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but
to sleep and feed? A beast, no more”(IV.iv. 35-37). This comparison of himself to a beast
displays his new lack of emotion, personal desire, and that his utmost priority has become the
revenge of his father, King Hamlet. At this point in the play, vengeance entirely consumes
Hamlet, leaving a character that has lost his will to do good, and depression that has arguably
transitioned into insanity. Despite the differences in time period and location, I believe
Shakespeare perfectly exhibited how this transition to insanity can occur in society today.
Although the circumstances are vastly different to what would occur today, the story of Hamlet
emphasizes consistencies between depression, suicide, and insanity in a way that ultimately
remains applicable and understood.
The progression of Hamlet as a character also reveals how Prince Hamlet’s initial fake
insanity eventually became real. In his plans of vengeance on the new King Claudius, Hamlet
pretends to be crazy to cover his true intentions. This is displayed when Hamlet admits “this be
madness, yet there is method in’t”, showing his intent...