Hamlet as a Madman

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Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most analyzed plays. The Danish prince is developed into a mysterious and fascinating man. A philosopher and a fencer, he is a man disgusted with the rottenness of life around him and is obligated to set things right. Under the guise of madness he attempts to achieve his ends; yet there is much to puzzle over. Was Hamlet really such a good actor that he could fool everyone into believing in his madness or was he truly mad? And, why did he wait so long to carry out his revenge? Hamlet thinks too much and this drove him to an insanity that was not feigned. “… and the devil hath power/ To assume a pleasing shape…” The ghost provides Hamlet with a dilemma. Supernatural forces are not always to be trusted. Hamlet does not know whether the ghost is telling the truth or not, which is why he has ‘The Mousetrap’ performed by the visiting players. If Hamlet had killed Claudius solely on the ghost’s advise, he would certainly have been put to death himself. There would probably have been a civil war to choose a new king. Being the humanitarian that he is, and taking account of his responsibilities as a prince and future king, Hamlet would most likely want to avoid a civil war. Even though Claudius is a murderer, and probably not as noble a king as Hamlet Sr. was, he is still a king. Hamlet realizes that Claudius brings order to Denmark and in killing him he will plunge his country into the darkness of chaos. On top of this dilemma, Hamlet cannot share his feelings with his mother or his girlfriend. While the first is literally sleeping with the enemy, the latter has chosen the side of her father (and Claudius). Ophelia is in a difficult position, being torn between her father and her lover. All of these things amass a great deal of stress on Hamlet. Even if Hamlet is truly only pretending to be mad after his first encounter with the ghost he is most truly insane by the end of...
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