For centuries, scholars have been debating the issue on whether Hamlet - the
prince of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet - was mad. This question is not
as easy as it sounds to answer; this is due to the fact that there are numerous
arguments to support both sides of the issue. For many reasons, it is easy to
believe that Hamlet was indeed mad. After all, Hamlet's behavior throughout most
of the play is extremely erratic and violent. However, there is another way to
look at his actions; there are indications within the play that there was
actually a method in his madness, suggesting that he was not mad at all.
One of the major arguments that Hamlet was mad, was his erratic and violent
behavior in many parts of the play. His erratic behavior is especially evident
in his conversation with Ophelia:
Hamlet: ...I could accuse me of such things that it were better
my mother had not borne me: I am very proud,
revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beck
than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to
give them shape, or time to act them in. What should
such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and
earth! We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us...
* Act 3 Scene 1
One minute Hamlet tells Ophelia that "I did love you once."1 Then in his next
line he says "I loved you not."2 This quick change in moods suggests that he
Hamlet: Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty-
1 - Act 3, Scene 1
2 - Act 3, Scene 1
Queen: O, speak to me no more;
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet.
*Act 3 Scene 4
This excerpt is from Hamlet's conversation with his mother after he lays his
trap down on Claudius. He speaks with such anger and wrath that... [continues]
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(1999, 10). Hamlet: Was He Mad?. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Hamlet-He-Mad-3816.html
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"Hamlet: Was He Mad?." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Hamlet-He-Mad-3816.html.