22 April 2013
Is Hamlet Crazy?
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there are many questions that arise when we pay close attention to Hamlets’ behavior throughout the play. How mad is he really? Does he keep his reason and balance in the play, or does he completely go insane? Is he affected by a mental illness, or is he only pretending to act crazy? These are many questions that have made many readers curious about Hamlet. From the beginning to the end of the play, Hamlet demonstrates many attitudes and behaviors that someone who has a behavioral disorder would display, a bipolar disorder that is.
A bipolar disorder is historically known as manic–depressive disorder or manic depression. It is a disorder where people typically alternate between episodes of depression and episodes of acting extremely happy and active. These episodes can either alternate between a few days to a few months. Some of the symptoms this disorder can cause are the need to be extremely active, be excessively talkative, and being able to get easily distracted. In more extreme cases, the person can even become wild or violent. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s depression takes over and this is where his disorder begins to show.
At the beginning of the play Hamlet seems sane. Although he does express disappointment in his mother for dating his own uncle, his feelings are reasonable. He is grieving towards his father’s recent death. In act 1, scene 2, Hamlet begins to express his depression when he says: O, that this too sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! / Or that the Everlasting had not fixed / His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God, / How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world! / Fie on ‘t, ah fie! ‘Tis an unweeded garden / That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely. That it should come to this! / But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two....
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