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Hamlet’s Wild Roller Coaster Ride Essay

1552 words - 7 pages

Alternating between the darkest plunges of depression and highest peaks of mania, Hamlet was accused of being melancholic and even insane. But, in present times, it would have been recognized that Hamlet had bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder where the sufferer goes back and forth between episodes of mania and depression (Basile). So, in modern day, Hamlet would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and it was one of his manic episodes that ultimately lead to his death.
Hamlet shows signs of depression starting after his father’s death. In the beginning of Hamlet, Hamlet is grieving over his father’s death and resents his new father, Claudius. Hamlet says, “She married. O, most wicked speed to post/ With such dexterity to incestusous sheets!/ It is not, not it cannot come to good./ But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue” (I.ii.158-161.). Hamlet is unable to escape from his depressive state because of his continuing grudge towards Claudius. Hamlet now not only loathes his new father, but his mother as well for remarrying so quickly and to his father’s, her late husband’s, brother. Hamlet mourning is prolonged and extreme as he continues to wear a dark wardrobe long after his father’s death, unable to accept what has happened and move on with his life. Hamlet’s depressive mood swings are a symptom of his bipolar disorder. According to The Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders, the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder range from mania (elevated or irritable mood) to depression (a mood characterized by loss of interest and sadness). Symptoms of a depressive episode include, persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood and feelings of irritability, hopelessness, or negativity (Basile). Hamlet’s first depressive episode is triggered by his father’s death. He is grieving over the loss of a loved one, resents his Mother and Claudius, and doesn’t care about his appearance.
Later, Hamlet has a manic episode when the theatrical troupe arrives. Hamlet has a plan to confirm that Claudius killed his father. He asks one of the troupe players, “Can you play The Murder of Gonzago?” (II.ii.498.). Hamlet believes he will be able to tell from Claudius’s reaction to the play, in which the plot is similar to how Hamlet believes Claudius killed his father, if Claudius is really the cause of his father’s death. He believes that if Claudius shows any hint of guilt, he will be able to identify it. Hamlet is extremely goal oriented in his plan and is very excited about the idea of verifying Claudius’s guilt. According to an article on bipolar disorder on, some of the symptoms of a manic episode are increasing goal-oriented activity, having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities, and behaving impulsively. Hamlet’s rash decision to try to exploit Claudius is very impulsive. He is only able to focus on his single goal of exposing Claudius and is unable to concentrate on anything else. He also...

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