Hamlet's Madness Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

Hamlet is one of the greatest works of Shakespeare. Of all the themes in this play madness is perhaps one of the most important themes. Madness can be defined as a state of mental illness, extreme excitement or immense rage. Was hamlet mad? It is hard for the readers to reach a final conclusion about hamlet's madness because of his fluctuating moods. Hamlet feigned his madness so that it would provide him with a shelter and make it easier for him to take revenge. Also, his words and soliloquies did not reflect any sort of madness. Moreover, The readers and the characters generally misinterpret hamlets style of talking circuitously as his madness. Hamlet is faking to be mad to achieve his goal of taking revenge from the king Hamlet puts on a mask of madness for a purpose, which was, that it gave him a chance to work on his plan of taking revenge and also provide him with a valid excuse. After the Ghost's first appearance to Hamlet, he decides that when he finds it suitable or advantageous to him, he will act as if he is mad. He says to horatio "As I perchance hereafter shall think meet, to put an antic disposition on." (I.v.173). This clearly indicates that from this point onwards; hamlet has decided to act as if he was mad and is not actually mad. This strategy gives Hamlet a chance to find proof of Claudius's guilt and to consider his revenge scheme. As mentioned by one of the critics about hamlets madness- When he is alone we have the truth of him, but it is madness, which is on public exhibition. And a very "antic disposition" he will at times display-for he must, if is to claim the madman's privilege and security-till at last "his pranks" become "too broad to bear with" (Barker, 233).An example to prove my point is that when hamlet apologizes to Leartes for killing Polonius, he says that it was not him but his madness that killed his father. This is not true. At the instant when he killed Polonius he was very sane because according to me his conversation with the queen before killing Polonius did not reflect any kind of insanity. Clearly, he is basically using his madness as an excuse. Polonius's death was an accident and not an act of madness. Therefore, hamlet was not mad in reality but pretending to be mad so that he can use it as a pretext to consider his plan of taking revenge from Claudius and as an excuse. When hamlet talks to everyone, his words are bewildering but they make sense and do not reveal any sort of madness.Hamlets words maybe confusing but they make logic if looked at carefully and do not echo any kind of insanity. "I am but mad north-north west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw" (II.ii.376-377). At first it might seem that these are words of a madman but if we analyze them; beneath hamlet's antic disposition these words are indeed very sane. In his strange imagery involving points of compass, weather and hunting birds, he is actually indicating that he knows when to appear mad and that he recognizes...

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