Insane, Or Not Insane? That Is The Question

958 words - 4 pages

Megan CollinsCordel BrowneENG 4U1October 19, 2007Insane, or not Insane? That is the QuestionThe definition of mad is as follows: a deranged state of the mind or lack of understanding. Throughout Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the main character, young Hamlet, is brought on to find out who killed his father. He decides to put on a façade of madness as part of his plan to gain the opportunity to kill his Uncle, and new father, Claudius. Throughout the play, Hamlets "madness" becomes quite believable, causing most of the characters to think he actually is a mad man. However, through his inner thoughts and the apparent reasons for his actions, it is clear that he is not really mad and is simply an actor simulating insanity in order to fulfill his duty to his dead father. Hamlet only claims madness because it allows him to say and perform actions he otherwise would be prohibited from. Hamlet asks his friends Horatio and Marcellus not to mention anything about his "antic disposition" (1.5.173) and his erratic behaviour. Throughout the play, Hamlet speaks to many characters with disrespect, only being able to get away with it because he is believed as mad. He even goes as far as criticizing his love interest, Ophelia with sexual remarks "That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs (3.2.115)." Had Hamlet not been seen as insane, this type of behaviour towards his girlfriend likely wouldn't have passed. Again, Hamlet uses his madness merely as an excuse for killing Laertes father, Polonius. Hamlet's madness redirects attention away from what he is thinking about his father's death, and puts it on why he has gone insane. This allows only himself to know what he is truly thinking, does not require him to answer any questions as to why he might be acting strange, and allows him to continue to plan his assault on Claudius. His plan to maintain an appearance of a madman is an ingenious one. The fact that he is able to fulfill the role of someone who is insane only makes Hamlet more ingenious, not more insane. Hamlet manages to act sane when the time is right for him. During the Hamlet's play to catch Claudius' guilt expression, Hamlet turns to Horatio and asks him to watch Claudius as well. Hamlet says it in a very sane, serious tone. But Horatio is one of the few people in the plane that knows that Hamlet is sane. Very soon Polonius catches on as well, stating "though this be madness, yet there is method in't?" (2.2.205) Because of Hamlet's logic thinking it is much more plausible to believe that he is a sane man playing an insane man, than an insane man playing a sane one. In the play, Hamlet gives a plethora of clever soliloquies seemingly having complete understanding of...

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