This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet Insanity Within Hamlet

1956 words - 8 pages

Insanity within Hamlet  

 
    Let us explore in this essay the real or feigned madness of the hero in William Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Hamlet.

 

Critical opinion is divided on this question. A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy staunchly adheres to the belief that Hamlet would cease to be a tragic character if he were really mad at any time in the play (30). On the other hand, W. Thomas MacCary in Hamlet: A Guide to the Play maintains that the prince not only feigns insanity but also shows signs of true insanity:

 

Hamlet feigns madness but also shows signs of true madness) after his father’s death and his mother’s overhasty remarriage; Ophelia actually does go mad after her father’s death at the hands of Hamlet. For both, madness is a kind of freedom – a license to speak truth. Those who hear them listen carefully, expecting to find something of substance in their speech. Is it they, the audience, who make something out of nothing, or is it the mad who make something out of the nothing of ordinary experience? (90)

 

Hamlet’s conversation with Claudius is insane language to the latter. Lawrence Danson in “Tragic Alphabet” describes how Hamlet’s use of the syllogism is pure madness to the king:

 

From Claudius’s point of view, however, the syllogism is simply mad: its logic is part of Hamlet’s “antic disposition.” Sane men know, after all, that “man and wife is one flesh” only in a metaphoric or symbolic sense; they know that only a madman would look for literal truth in linguistic conventions. And Claudius is right that such “madness in great ones must not unwatched go” (III.i.end). (70)

 

Hamlet’s first words in the play say that Claudius is "A little more than kin and less than kind," indicating a dissimilarity in values between the new king and himself – introducing into the story a psychological problem, a refusal to conform, which lays the groundwork, or previews, the upcoming pretended madness. Hamlet’s first soliloquy deepens the psychological rift between the prince and the world at large, but especially women; it emphasizes the frailty of women – an obvious reference to his mother’s hasty and incestuous marriage to her husband’s brother:

 

Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,

     As if increase of appetite had grown

     By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--

     Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman! (1.2)

   

Soon Horatio, the hero’s closest friend (“Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man / As e'er my conversation coped withal.”), and Marcellus make contact with Hamlet and escort him to the ramparts of Elsinore. At one a.m. the Ghost reveals to the protagonist that King Hamlet was murdered by Claudius, who had a relationship with Gertrude prior to the murder; the ghost requests revenge by Hamlet: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” Hamlet swears to carry out vengeance on King Claudius.

 

The hero resolves to...

Find Another Essay On Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Insanity within Hamlet

Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet

2051 words - 8 pages revenge!”   In the meantime, Ophelia loses her sanity because of the rejection by Hamlet and the death of her father. Hamlet is kidnapped by pirates from his ship en route to England. Laertes returns from France; he and Claudius “concoct their dastardly plans for the certain death of Hamlet” (Burton) in retaliation for Polonius’ death and Ophelia’s madness. Hamlet’s demise appears imminent as the court at Elsinore await his return

Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Madness in Hamlet

801 words - 3 pages Madness in Hamlet        Hamlet's choice to put on an "antic disposition" leads to his downfall; it is a tragic error in judgement (hamartia) which destroys his relationship with Ophelia and Gertrude. It is Hamlet's hubris. Another result from Hamlet's peculiar actions, is that in his own mind he begins to believe that he is mad.  It is unfortunate that Hamlet's plan did not succeed; not only did it lead to his own downfall but he had to

Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Hamlet is Sane

1393 words - 6 pages Hamlet is Not Insane           What occurs in another person's mind is almost impossible to know and comprehend. We use our own understanding of the world that surrounds us to find answers concerning the minds of people around us. As I read Hamlet by William Shakespeare, I was forced to use my understanding to determine whether or not Prince Hamlet was drowning in the sea of madness or just waddling in the pool of acting. To answer my own

Use of Insanity and Madness in Hamlet

1160 words - 5 pages describes his madness when he says, “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from handsaw” (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 378-379). Hamlet is insane only when he thinks it is best for him to be insane. He uses his insanity as a way to vent his feelings toward others in the play. Hamlet’s display of insanity allows him to prove that Claudius did in face murder his father. After seeing the ghost of his father, Hamlet vows

The Insanity of Hamlet

1592 words - 7 pages demonstrates awareness; his mind ultimately succumbs to insanity, which brings about his tragic end. Hamlet is aware while he shows signs of insanity. Hamlet's awareness is being torn away from his body. “Hamlet’s salvation- his awareness of his human failings- comes only with his death” (Boyce 146). Boyce states that Hamlet shows awareness and that it will eventually be the death of him. His awareness drives him into madness. He shows that he is

hamlet: sanity vs insanity

847 words - 3 pages Hamlet says “How now! A rat?” and kills Polonius because he thought that it was Claudius. Hamlet’s insanity is like a blind rage. He is so focused on revenge that he doesn’t realize what he is doing. Hamlet is taking sick pleasure in hurting the ones around him in order to please himself which his pure insanity.      In this play, the way others interpret Hamlets behavior is that he is insane. With Hamlet acting this way

Feigned Insanity in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

688 words - 3 pages True insanity cannot be controlled but feigned insanity is easily controlled in order to manipulate other people. In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet pretends that he is insane to trick King Claudius and his company while in fact, he is not at all mad. Hamlet admits his trick that he trying to pull as well as both Polonius and Claudius, whom he is trying to deceive, admit that at some points, it seems as though Hamlet is simply pretending

Insanity in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

698 words - 3 pages Hamlet Essay “I plead guilty by reason of insanity,” is Hamlet’s plea if he was sitting in a modern courtroom. In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, it is evident that Hamlet himself is indeed out of his mind. The reader understands the reason for his anger and frustration, but how he “fixes” the situation is beyond a sane mind. To be fair, his madness deals more with emotional instability referred to as melancholy or madness than a person who

Theme of Madness Conveyed in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1217 words - 5 pages In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, one of the most evident and important themes is the theme of madness. The theme is apparent throughout the play, mainly through the actions and thoughts of Hamlet, Ophelia, and Laertes. Madness is defined as the quality or condition of mental illness or derangement (being insane). Madness is at the center of the conflicts and problems of the play and is conveyed through Shakespeare’s elaborate use of manipulation

Two Types of Madness in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1873 words - 7 pages       In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the principal character, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, uses a charade of madness in order to further his plot of revenge. However, his mind is not able to justify murder for any reason; therefore, he truly goes insane before he is able to fulfill his scheme. In contrast, Ophelia is openly mad and is used by Shakespeare to show the various forms of insanity. According to Carney Landis and James D. Page

Madness of Multiple Characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet

960 words - 4 pages In the play Hamlet, the author, Shakespeare portrays madness or insanity through most of its characters. What is madness, it is a state of mind in which doesn’t let ones ideas flow normally or think with a clear mind. In this case it is evident that there is something wrong with almost all the main characters. All the characters in the play in some form or fashion display madness either through thoughts, actions or words. Due to Hamlets

Similar Essays

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet Hamlet And Insanity

1967 words - 8 pages mother, the very emotionally upset Hamlet detects a spy (Polonius) behind the arras in the room and runs him through with his rapier. Then, while the prince berates his mother for her past, the Ghost reappears to him (and only him) in order to redirect the hero   Hamlet’s dialogue with the invisible guest confirms Gertrude’s suspicion of real madness within her son. And the killing of Polonius, plus the suspicion of Claudius that Hamlet knows

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet

1395 words - 6 pages        In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there are two characters that display qualities of insanity.  They are Hamlet and Ophelia.  Although they both appear to be mad at times, their downfall (or supposed downfall) is quite different.  Ophelia's crazed characteristics show up and intensify quite rapidly, until she is ultimately led to suicide.  Her madness seems definite, and it is never questioned.  The insanity or sanity of the main character is an

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet

3220 words - 13 pages Hamlet and Insanity       William Shakespeare’s creation of the character of Hamlet within the tragedy of that name left open the question of whether the madness of the protagonist is entirely feigned or not. This essay will treat this aspect of the drama.   George Lyman Kittredge in the Introduction to The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, explains the lack of success with Hamlet’s pretended insanity, and in so doing he

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet

1537 words - 6 pages A popular topic of discussion for Shakespearian critics is whether or not Hamlet is sane at various points in the play. Usually, this digresses into a question of at what point Hamlet crosses the fine line which marks the bounds of sanity into the realm of insanity. This is a confusing matter to sort out, due to the fact that it is hard to tell when the prince is acting, and when he is really and truly out of his mind. The matter of