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Hamlet Essay Hamlets Madness

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Hamlet essay: Topic 2
Andrew Vedder

In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the main protagonist Prince Hamlet is seen as being “mad” by many of his friends and family members. This however is not true. Hamlet was not truly mad, he is putting on a fake persona to trick people into believing it so they did not find out what he was truly up to.

In the play many characters believe Hamlet to be mad, “I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. Mad I call it, for to define true madness, what is’t but to be nothing else but mad?” as affirmed by Polonius to Gertrude. Polonius is one of the characters who sees Hamlet as a bad influence on his daughter and as mad man.

With Polonius drawn into Hamlets madness it ultimately leads to his demise, when one day he is ordered by Claudius to spy on Hamlet. In this scene Polonius is slain by Hamlet as Hamlet thought it was Claudius standing behind the tapestry. This is a perfect example of how destructive Hamlets mad-man-like qualities can be.

In the beginning of the play Hamlet makes it clear to his most trusted friends and his mother Gertrude that he is putting on this persona of being insane. He tells Horatio to ensure that he knows he is going to “feign madness,” in order to find out what truly happened to his father and find out whether or not cluadius was involved. Hamlet also tells his mother that he is not mad, “but mad in craft.”

In the play Hamlets madness only becomes evident when he is in the presence of certain characters. When Hamlet is around Polonius, Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern he behaves irrationally but when he is around Horatio, Bernardo, Francisco, The Players and the Gravediggers he behaves rationally. This shows that Hamlet isn’t truly made or insane.

Hamlet’s insanity gradually becomes less and less intentional. He acts irresponsibly with little thought to consequences. He treats those who are important to him as if they mean nothing. Rational thought slips away when Hamlet miss treats Ophelia and later regrets it. When Hamlet confronts Ophelia he bashes her feelings by saying, “…give his plague for dowry: be as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, shalt not escape calumny…”. These cruel words make it seem like Hamlet has no love for Ophelia. Yet later Hamlet says, “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum…” when he argues with Ophelia’s brother about who has the greater love for her. If Hamlet’s madness really is feigned, he would show some respect to those he cares about.

As we can see Hamlet is seen as being “mad” by many of his counter parts including two of his best friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and his uncle, Claudius. This however is not true. Hamlet was putting on a fake persona to try and find out what truly happened to his father and to see if what the Ghost indicated to him was true. Although Hamlet hurt a lot of people including Ophelia and his mother he was never truly mad but was just a grieving son trying to avenge his father’s death.

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