The tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare is about Hamlet going insane and reveals his madness through his actions and dialogue. Hamlet remains one of the most discussed literary characters of all time. This is most likely due to the complex nature of Hamlet as a character. In one scene, Hamlet appears happy, and then he is angry in another and melancholy in the next. Hamlet’s madness is a result of his father’s death which was supposedly by the hands of his uncle, Claudius. He has also discovered that this same uncle is marrying his mom. It is expected that Hamlet would be suffering from some emotional issues as result of these catastrophes. Shakespeare uses vivid language, metaphors, and imagery to highlight how Hamlet’s madness influences several important aspects of his life including his relationships and the way he presents himself.
At first, Hamlet is respectable even though he is not happy to find out that his mother is married to his uncle nor is he happy to discover that his father is dead. The reader is first introduced to Hamlet’s madness in his first soliloquy. His is speaking on his lack of satisfaction with his life and on his mother’s hasty marriage to his uncle.
Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world! (Shakespeare, 1.2.129-134)
Shakespeare uses a variety of metaphors and descriptive words to describe Hamlet’s emotional state. Hamlet is saying here that he wishes that his flesh would melt away and dissolve. He goes on to say that he wishes that God had not made suicide wrong. Terms like weary, stale, and flat perfectly illustrate how Hamlet feels at this moment. It is clear here that Hamlet is not happy with his life; it is normal to be unhappy when a parent dies. But, this vivid soliloquy marks only the beginning of the emotional reactions that Hamlet will exhibit.
Hamlet’s madness intensifies once he comes in contact with the ghost of his father. Hamlet first encounters the ghost when he is with Horatio and Marcellus. Hamlet’s emotional state is even more noticeable in this scene. The ghost motions for Hamlet to come over, but his friends advise him not to.
Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life in a pin’s fee,
And for my soul—what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself? (Shakespeare, 1.4.67-71).
It is obvious from these lines that Hamlet does not care whether he lives or dies. At this point, Hamlet fears nothing. The ghost completely takes over Hamlet’s entire being. His friends try to prevent him from following the ghost, but Hamlet draws his sword and threatens to kill them (Shakespeare, 1.4.90). The ghost of his father proceeds to tell Hamlet that his uncle, Claudius, was the one that killed him. His father’s ghost says that Claudius killed him so that he could marry his wife and inherit the...