Revenge and Downfall

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Yasmin Nunez

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, it is the desire for revenge that lies behind the motives of young Hamlet. His moral struggle towards revenge becomes an obsession leading to a change in character. His actions strongly imply that madness has overcome him. However, there are hints present in the text that implies his madness was feigned in order to achieve his revenge.

Immediately following the appearance of old King Hamlet's ghost, Hamlet warns Horatio that he may act mad, which foreshadows a change in Hamlet's character. The reader is prepared that any abnormal acts may be a result from Hamlet's acting. As the play continues, more questions are raised that involve his sanity.

Ophelia, who was the first to witness his madness, offered an insight as she described Hamlet's actions to her father. Hamlet, who was described as being mad, was speechless and only stared into Ophelia's eyes. The bizarre actions of Hamlet are presumed to be an act, but the strong visualization of the scene can create doubt in a reader's mind. If Hamlet was feigning his madness, then why would he want to frighten his girlfriend that he cared for so much?

As more events led to the questioning of Hamlet's sanity, the reader was given a glimpse into the mind of Hamlet in the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy. Hamlet's questions of life and contemplation of suicide revealed his emotions of depression, which derived mainly from his family conflicts. His build up of stress, depression, and inability to cope with these emotions could have easily affected him. His constant reminder of the evil in King Claudius and his vow to seek revenge also added to his burden. His struggles against these emotions weakened him, and ultimately led him to actual madness. As it become more evident that Hamlet's acting could have become a reality, his desire for revenge becomes stronger. He becomes more focus on achieving his revenge, but does not rush for the opportunity. When...
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