The Genius of Hamlet, the Very Sane Prince of Denmark

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The Genius of Hamlet, the Very Sane Prince of Denmark

Hamlet in Shakepeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is often seen as a lunatic. Lucid and ingenious, Prince Hamlet falls into a state of emotional turmoil, but he is never insane. Hamlet feigns madness to reveal his anguish concerning the two women he used to love - his mother Gertrude and his lover Ophelia. To escape estrangement from his countrymen, Hamlet appears to waver between madness and sanity. And, to avoid moral estrangement, the Prince plans on revenging his father's death under the guise of madness. There is no question that Hamlet feigns insanity, and he does so to voice his emotions to the two closest women in his life, to influence the opinions of his peers, and to plan the revenge of his father's death.

With his famous line "frailty, thy name is woman" (I, ii. 146), Hamlet descends into an abyss of emotional turmoil. He loses faith in his mother Queen Gertrude and in his lover Ophelia. Feigning madness, Hamlet is able to make his innermost anguish known to these two important women in his life. Still grieving at his father's death, Hamlet is shocked when his mother Queen Gertrude marries Claudius two months after the King's death. At this point in the play, Hamlet does not feign madness but is genuinely and openly melancholy. As Hamlet explains to his mother, his "inky cloak" shows his grief, but the pain is much deeper. Grief is not a sign of madness. Gertrude feels that her son has greatly changed, for he no longer views her as his mother . Instead, he calls her his “good-mother” - his step mother. Gertrude marrying her husband's brother is incestuous, and this bestirs feelings of bitterness in Hamlet. However, since Gertrude is the Queen and she is his mother, Hamlet cannot denounce her "pernicious" behaviour without hiding behind the mask of madness. While he muses to himself about Gertrude's conduct, Hamlet hears Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo arrive. Hamlet quickly says, "But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue" (I, ii. 159). He realizes that it is best for him to keep his thoughts and plans to himself, because to do otherwise is to breach the rules of hierarchy. Soon, Hamlet does appear "mad" in his appearance by looking unkempt, and Queen Gertrude attributes this to her husband's death and to her "o'er-hasty marriage" to Claudius (II, ii. 56-57). Thus, when Hamlet rebukes her in public and in private, Queen Gertrude does not become angry. Instead, she feels sorry for him and feels somewhat guilty about her remarriage. When Hamlet suggests for her to take a look in the mirror, Gertrude admits that Hamlet has "turn'st [her] eyes into [her] very soul" (III, iv. 79). Had she thought that Hamlet was sane, Gertrude might not have been as tender towards her son as she was. Hamlet at this point is sane but also very bitter. He says, "I will speak daggers to her, but use none" (III, ii. 366). A madman would have used a real...

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