Hamlet's Madness Essay

1676 words - 7 pages

Hamlet's Madness

Is Hamlet Mad? Not Likely. Madness is a condition of the mind which eliminates all rational thought leaving an individual with no proper conception of what is happening around him/her. Madness typically occurs in the minds of individuals that have experienced an event or series of events that their mind simply cannot cope with and, thus, to avoid their harsh reality, they fall into a state of madness. In William Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet, there is much debate around the protagonist, Hamlet, and whether or not his madness in the play was real or feigned. It was a disastrous time in the prince, Hamlet’s life as his father had just passed away, his uncle then took the kingship and wed Hamlet’s mother, then the ghost of his deceased father appeared to him with instructions for revenge and, finally, the love of his life was no longer permitted to see the prince by order of the lady’s father. This would seem to many to be reason enough for an individual to lose touch with reality and fall into madness, but this was not the case with the brilliant strong-minded Hamlet. Though the prince displayed numerous signs of madness during the play, Hamlet never lost touch with reality as he continued acting rational both in his thoughts as well as while speaking with certain individuals. If Hamlet were truthfully insane, he would not have been able to suddenly stop displaying his insanity as he did in the play after his altercation with Laertes in the graveyard. He also had motive for putting on the contrivance as it would disguise his investigation of his father’s strange death and his plans for revenge against his uncle Claudius if he found him to be guilty. After Hamlet witnessed the appearance of his dead father’s ghost and heard what the spirit had to say, Hamlet’s sole mission in life was to uncover the truth behind his Williams 2 father’s death and avenge it accordingly. By putting on this scheme it would serve him better on his quest as opposed to going about his business in a sane and rational manner. Firstly, it allowed Hamlet to confuse those around him about what the cause of his troubled mind was and, also, about what his true intentions are behind any of his actions. This thought is portrayed through Hamlet deceiving Polonius into believing that his love for Ophelia was the root of his madness. Consequently, Polonius went immediately to the king and queen who remark: “Do you think ‘tis this? / It may be; very like” (2.2.151-52). After Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost, he obtains a great distrust and distaste for women. His feigned madness permitted Hamlet to express these emotions freely towards Ophelia: “...Get thee to a nunnery, / farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a / fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters / you make of them...” (3.1.138-41). It was also important for Hamlet to be so vulgar towards Ophelia because it would not have been possible for him to continue being a caring loving boyfriend...

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