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To Be Mad Or To Be Melancholic

848 words - 4 pages

“He is far gone, far gone” (2.2.8). The play Hamlet written by William Shakespeare is the story of young Hamlet whose father was killed by his uncle, Claudius, then his uncle took the throne and married Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, which ultimately caused hamlet to become melancholic or ‘mad’. In the essay ‘Madness and Melancholy in Hamlet’ written by Kate Flint she explores the idea of madness and melancholy in the Elizabethan time in reference to the actions of Hamlet. She states that Hamlet is neither mad nor melancholy but does display symptoms of each. Flint states that to categorize Hamlet as either mad or melancholy the characters would have to be viewed as real people which they cannot ...view middle of the document...

ii.56-7). Hamlet sees that Horatio knows what is appropriate and Hamlet envies that. But ultimately his actions can neither be characterized as madness or melancholy because those are traits given to ‘real’ people and Hamlet is a fictional character, and to categorize Hamlet there has to be a ‘norm’ to contrast him against.
In the essay ‘Madness and Melancholy in Hamlet” Flint argues that Hamlets madness gives him the ability to speak the hard truth without repercussion. He speaks of the cruelty and inevitability of death. His speeches to characters like his mother, uncle and friend, Rosencrantz, speak the hard truth. The things he declares are so repulsive other characters chose to think he is crazy because they cause confusion even though Hamlet is speaking the truth. The language Shakespeare uses through Hamlet is full of puns and paradoxes confusing other characters making his audience unable to justify if Hamlet is truly ‘mad’. His speeches are long and are rarely understood by his fellow characters a technique used to make someone question the sanity of a character. Hamlet displays this quality when Polonius first interacts with Hamlet, asking if Hamlet knows who Polonius is, Hamlet answers, “Excellent well; you are a fishmonger” (2.2.174). Hamlet is angry at Polonius for keeping him away from Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia, and for doing whatever the kings asks of him so Hamlet decides to pretend he does not know who Polonius is. This...

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