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Mental deterioration in Hamlet
William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet explores the thought process of a man on a mission for revenge and the psychological factors associated with it. By making Hamlet an over-contemplating protagonist Shakespeare is successfully able to explore the thought process of someone out to get revenge. A major theme in the play Hamlet is mental deterioration. Hamlet’s antics blur the line between acting and real madness, Ophelia loses her ability to rationalize after losing Hamlet then her father, Laertes loses self control and resolve after learning of his father’s murder and sister’s suicide. To start with, Hamlet’s antics start out as a ruse to find out more about the murder and confirm that Claudius was the real killer, but as time goes on there are delays as to acquiring the information due to Hamlet’s indecisiveness. By over-thinking Hamlet loses control over reality and his purpose, also he drifts off in thought which clouds his mind of reason. He acts disarranged when Polonius comes to question him, giving him odd answers laced with minute observations about him. Later on his antics just become self destructive when he denounces Ophelia. His ruse during the play is too convincing, but the real proof of his madness is his rash murder of Polonius, when he says “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!” (3,4,25) this can be interpreted in a variety of ways but a closer look at the lines that follow reveal he has lost his rationale. Later on when his mother Gertrude says “Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!” (3, 4, 29) this quote shows that it is against Hamlet’s nature to act without knowing all the facts. This act clearly shows signs of mental deterioration due to his extravagant ruse of madness. The contributing factors to his mental deterioration and antic ruse are, the loss of his father, his depression, the supernatural-ghost of his father sending him a mission, and...
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