Hamlet Was He Mad? Essay

1407 words - 6 pages

For centuries, scholars have been debating the issue on whether Hamlet - the prince of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet - was mad. This question is not as easy as it sounds to answer; this is due to the fact that there are numerous arguments to support both sides of the issue. For many reasons, it is easy to believe that Hamlet was indeed mad. After all, Hamlet's behavior throughout most of the play is extremely erratic and violent. However, there is another way to look at his actions; there are indications within the play that there was actually a method in his madness, suggesting that he was not mad at all.One of the major arguments that Hamlet was mad, was his erratic and violent behavior in many parts of the play. His erratic behavior is especially evident in his conversation with Ophelia:Hamlet: ...I could accuse me of such things that it were bettermy mother had not borne me: I am very proud,revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beckthan I have thoughts to put them in, imagination togive them shape, or time to act them in. What shouldsuch fellows as I do crawling between heaven andearth! We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us...* Act 3 Scene 1One minute Hamlet tells Ophelia that "I did love you once."1 Then in his next line he says "I loved you not."2 This quick change in moods suggests that he was mad.Hamlet: Nay, but to liveIn the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making loveOver the nasty sty-1 - Act 3, Scene 12 - Act 3, Scene 1Queen: O, speak to me no more;These words like daggers enter in my ears.No more, sweet Hamlet.*Act 3 Scene 4This excerpt is from Hamlet's conversation with his mother after he lays his trap down on Claudius. He speaks with such anger and wrath that his own mother fears him and screams for help. Consequently, Polonius who is hiding behind the curtains screams for help, and Hamlet stabs him thinking that he had caught Claudius spying on him.Hamlet: Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!I took thee for thy better, take thy fortune:Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger...*Act 3 Scene 4Throughout this whole scene Hamlet seems mad: the rage he expresses towards his mother, he killed Polonius in a 'fit of madness', and also when Hamlet seniors ghost appears to him. This is the point in the play when Hamlet seems the most mad. In all of the other instances, everyone was able to see the ghost; but in this scene the ghost can only be seen by Hamlet. When Hamlet starts speaking to the ghost even his mother thinks that he is mad: "This is the very coinage of your brain: This bodiless creation ecstasy is very cunning in."1 When the queen reports this deed to Claudius, she sates the he was: "Mad as the sea and wind...."2When Hamlet goes before Claudius to confess for the murder of Polonius, he refuses to tell where the body went, and seems to make a joke out of the whole thing.Claudius: Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?Hamlet: At supper.Claudius:At supper!...

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