Hamlet: Crazy or Acting Insane

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Kyle Simon

Hamlet: “Mad and Crazy or Acting Insane”?
Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark, and the son of the late king. He is also the nephew of the new king, Claudius, who married Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude. Hamlet’s father appears as a ghost, to tell him that his uncle Claudius is the one responsible for his death. This drafts Hamlet into whether or not he wants to take revenge. He also feels depressed and perplexed to see how sudden his mother had been remarried to someone like Claudius. Horatio and Marcellus, Hamlet’s friend and the officer, overhear and witness what has just happened. “Swear,” states his father’s ghost as Hamlet makes the two swear on his sword not to reveal to anyone what they’ve seen, and he is going to pretend to be insane. “The time is out joint: O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right!”

Hamlet has traveling actors to perform a play fairly similar to how Hamlet’s father was killed, to see Claudius' reaction. This is where he seems to access some kind of madness, because he also becomes abusive to his mother and castigates her for what she has done, even stabbing Polonius, Ophelia’s father, thinking it was Claudius standing behind the curtains. He becomes more abusive to Ophelia, and claims her to be disloyal and deceiving, even as so far to go and say, “I loved you not.” His actions become self-destructive and burdened with emotions. At this point, it is hard to tell if Hamlet is still acting on this madness or if he really has reached the point of insanity. After Ophelia’s depression and suicide, Hamlet seems to lose touch of real life. His plan of avenging his father ultimately rebounds, because he has upset everyone that he was close to and in the end, has either killed or indirectly killed them. Even though his madness was supposed to be an act, it ultimately controlled him resulting in his death.
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