"Alas he's mad" (3:4:108) How far do you agree with the statement that Hamlet is mad?
A great controversial talking point of the play Hamlet is whether he was mad or in fact making people think he was mad.
I disagree with Gertrude's statement that Hamlet is mad. I ask you what the definition of madness, the relatively permanent disorder of the mind, a state of mind characterized by the inability to distinguish right from wrong. Indeed Hamlet only acts mad in front of certain people such as his mother, Polonius, Ophelia, Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who he knows are spying on him.
I think Hamlet by using his mad façade hides his real intentions and motivations from his enemies and people that will give away information, thus driving them to madness instead. Causing Ophelia to drown, Polonius stand behind that curtain, Gertrude to drink from the poisoned cup and Laertes to put poison on his blade. Shakespeare uses Hamlets fake madness as a catalyst for the surrounding characters demise. As Gertrude says when hamlet confronts her, about marrying his uncle. ?Oh Hamlet thou hast left my heart in twain.? (3:4:154) Ophelia certainly is driven mad, partly by her father?s emotional manipulation on her, but also I believe by hamlets, denying of their love, and taunting after he finds out she is used to spy on him. Claudius I believe does, have reluctance and sometimes portrays the characteristics of a mad man, when he finds out he has been tricked by Hamlet, after the Mousetrap he shows the manic tendencies. This could be equated to anyone in the same situation.
Even Claudius and Polonius believe Hamlet is not insane,-
?Love? His affections do not that way. Nor what he spake, through it lacked a form a little. Was not like madness. There?s something in his soul. O?er which his melancholy sits on brood and I do doubt the hatch and the disclose? (3: 176-180)
Claudius says that Hamlets emotions are not from affection. What he does is not insane, it has a higher reason. Hamlet knows something is going on and that he is going to find it out although he does find this out in very unethical terms. Part of his way to hide his motives is by acting mad so he can set about his plan undeterred. With reference to ?There?s something in his soul.? In Hamlet people make many references to his soul, ?Thy devil take thy soul!? maybe hinting that the problem with Hamlet is not insanity but his soul contains the problem. This could possibly fit into the description of the black bile that the Elizabethans believed needed to be bled out in order to make the person saner. The Elizabethans believed that some mentally disabled people were possessed and that madness has a close relationship with god reflecting in the use of Hamlets soul.
If Hamlet were truly mad then he would not delay so much throughout the play for a mad man is unable to distinguish right from wrong. Does a mad man have a conscience? When Hamlet is stood after the play...