Shakespeare's Hamlet - Observations of Madness

2916 words - 12 pages ✓ Expert Reviewed
VIEW DOCUMENT
Preview

Hamlet: Observations of Madness


One of the most analyzed plays in existence is the tragedy Hamlet, with its recurring question: "Is Hamlet’s 'antic disposition' feigned or real?" In truth, this question can only be answered by observing the thoughts of the main characters in relation to the cause of Hamlet real or feigned madness. In the tragedy Hamlet, each of the main characters explains Hamlets madness in their own unique way. To discover the cause behind the madness of Hamlet, each character used their own ambitions, emotions and interpretations of past events. Characters tried to explain Hamlet's "antic disposition" by means of association to thwarted ambition, heartbreaking anguish, and denied love. In the workings of their thoughts, the characters inadvertently reveal something about their own desires, emotions and experiences to the reader.

The thoughts of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz present the reader with one possible factor for the cause of Hamlets supposed madness. The two men believe that the cause for Hamlets madness is his lack of “advancement” or thwarted ambition. In a conversation with Hamlet in Act II scene II, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz come upon this idea:

Hamlet: Denmark's a prison.

Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.

Hamlet: A goodly one; in which there are many confines,

wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.

Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.

Hamlet: Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing

either good or bad, but thinking makes it

so: to me it is a prison.

When the heir apparent calls his heritage a prison, something must be seriously wrong, and it is not difficult for them to guess what that something is. As prince of Denmark, Hamlet was next in line to become king. Unfortunately, his mother’s marriage to his uncle removed the short-term possibility for Hamlet to become king. Continuing on,

Rosencrantz: Why then, your ambition makes it one;

'tis too narrow for your mind.

Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count

myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I

have bad dreams.

Guildenstern: Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very

substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Hamlet: A dream itself is but a shadow.

Rosencrantz: Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a

quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.

(Act II scene II)

From the start of the discussion, Rosencrantz believes that it is Hamlet’s denied ambitions that creates Hamlet’s negative view of everything around him, including his soon to be kingdom, Denmark. Guildenstern soon jumps onto this bandwagon, and joins Rosencrantz in explaining to Hamlet that it is denied ambition that is the cause of all his troubles. For their efforts, Hamlet latter uses the same “cause” to dismiss...

Find Another Essay On Shakespeare's Hamlet - Observations of Madness

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...

Hamlet's Madness In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1373 words - 5 pages Hamlet's Madness in William Shakespeare's Hamlet At any given moment during the play, the most accurate assessment of Hamlet's state of mind probably lies somewhere between sanity and insanity. Hamlet certainly displays a high degree of mania and instability throughout much of the play, but his "madness" is perhaps too purposeful and pointed for us to conclude that he actually loses his mind. His language is erratic and...

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 determining the time of crossing over is further complicated by the fact that everyone around him is constantly speaking of madness. At the end we must either conclude that Hamlet is an extremely talented actor capable of staying in character under the most trying circumstances, or that he is human and as a result his sanity gives way to the many external emotional barrages coming his way. The more likely conclusion is that Hamlet is at some point...

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet - 2051 words

2051 words - 8 pages intentions. Ophelia is the first to experience the hero’s new “madness,” and she is terrorized by his disordered appearance. Her father, Polonius, diagnoses Hamlet’s condition as madness resulting from unrequited love. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern interrogate him on behalf of Claudius and Gertrude. Ophelia agrees to be a decoy to lure the hero so that the king and lord chamberlain can study him. At the time of the “chance” meeting, Hamlet is...

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...

Madness And Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet - Hamlet And Insanity

1967 words - 8 pages )   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 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 , Lines 129-130). Hamlet's next thought to be mad when he begins to follow the ghost. Horatio attempts to tell Hamlet not to follow the ghost, Horatio questions him to about what might happen if the ghost “assume some other horrible form Which might deprive your sovereignth of reason. And draw you into madness”(Act 1, Scene 4, Lines 72-74)? Throughout the play Hamlet seems to act insane then sane again. His comment to his friends best...

Claudius Of Shakespeare's Hamlet

1944 words - 8 pages   Faucit, Helena (Lady Martin). On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters. 6th ed. London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1899.   Jorgensen, Paul A. “Hamlet.” William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html   Knight, G. Wilson. "The Embassy of Death." The Wheel of Fire. London: Methuen and Co., Ltd., 1954. p. 38-39. http://server1...

Analysis Of Shakespeare's Hamlet

1136 words - 5 pages An individual plays a vital role in keeping patience to reveal the truth. In the play HAMLET, Shakespeare demonstrates the way of thinking of a character and how they deal with it. Through the comparison of two characters of hamlet and Ophelia, the reader is shown the nobility roles, madness and their tragic deaths after the death of their father...

Other Shakespeare's Hamlet - Observations of Madness Essays

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...

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...

Insanity In Shakespeare's Hamlet - Madness In Hamlet

801 words - 3 pages , 'Before you tumbled me,                             You promised me to wed.' ( IV; v; 60-64) It is after the death of Ophelia that Hamlet realizes his true feelings for her.  This is another contributing factor that leads to Hamlet's own downfall.     This tragic error in judgement leads Hamlet to destroy his relationship with his mother, Gertrude. By faking this madness he makes himself a less believable character. When he attacks his...