Hamlet's Melancholy

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Black Bile Excess:
Hamlet’s Melancholy

June 15th, 2010
Word Count: 1287
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the tragic hero Prince Hamlet of Denmark, returns home after the death of his father, King Hamlet. His return, however, was not one simply of mourning. The murderer of King Hamlet and also Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, observes that “there’s something in [Hamlet’s] soul/ O’er which his melancholy sits on brood…” (III, i, 165-166). From the outset of the novel in which his character is introduced, Hamlet is troubled by his melancholic condition. Melancholia is a disorder in which one suffers severe depression, apathy, and withdrawal (Britannica Encyclopedia). Throughout the play, Hamlet displays signs and characteristics of his inability to cope with this condition. Hamlet's indecisiveness keeps him from performing the mission that he has been told to complete by his father's ghost. He is also vulnerable to falling victim to impulsively driven action as a result of being emotionally propelled to act without thinking. Hamlet develops a barrier between his friends and family that keep him from side tracking and thus ruining his plans of revenge. Finally, Hamlet's determination and self awareness is the only thing that keeps him focused on what he must ultimately accomplish, and provides him with an unstoppable recklessness with which he pursues his goal. Melancholia is one of the primary driving forces behind both Hamlet’s irrational, and rational decisions in the play. Hamlet's constant thoughts and self-assessments spawn from his melancholy. His continual and deliberate contemplation in his numerous soliloquies throughout the play, provides what he is thinking, feeling, and behaving, which subsequently prevents him from acting on the ghost’s direction. Hamlet always manages to persuade himself out of committing the revenge that he craves which consequently give him more to reflect on when re-evaluating his status and the progress he has made towards...
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