In the book Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet comes off as a sane character pretending to be insane. In order to come up with a conclusion, one must know the real definition of sane and insane because in today’s day the word “insane” is used very loosely. Hamlets actions towards certain characters in the book can tell you that he may really just be a sane acting insane. To his credit Hamlet’s sanity remains unknown, but it is well guessed that Hamlet’s sanity has changed throughout the book just to confuse the reader. We know that in the book Hamlet, Hamlet is disgusted and depressed about the whole fact that his mother has gotten remarried to his uncle Claudius right after his father’s death. This obviously has bothered Hamlet and has put him in a not so stable mind set, which can show us that his father’s death can be the main reason why Hamlet acting the way he is. When Hamlet first came off as a character “pretending” to be insane was in Act 1 Scene 5. After the ghost of King Hamlet tells Hamlet Claudius is the one who murdered his father, Hamlet begins to plan his next step. Here, he warns his friends that he will put on an "antic disposition," which results in the delay of Hamlet's revenge. “How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself, As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on”, which means clown act to pretend to be a madman. This shows that Hamlet is saying himself that he is just acting crazy. Then later on in Act 2 Hamlet starts looking and acting very strange towards
Ophelia. Ophelia tells her father Polonius what hamlet has done. “My lord, as I was sewing in my closet, Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced; No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd, Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle;Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other; And with a look so piteous in purport As if he had been loosed out of hell To speak of horrors,—he comes before me.” He took me by the wrist and held me hard; Then goes he to the length of all his arm;And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow, He falls to such perusal of my face As he would draw it. Long stay'd he so; At last, a little shaking of mine arm And thrice his head thus waving up and down, He raised a sigh so piteous and profound As it did seem to shatter all his bulk And end his being: that done, he lets me go: And, with his head over his shoulder turn'd, He seem'd to find his way without his eyes; For out o' doors he went without their helps, And, to the last, bended their light on me.” (Act 2 Scene 1). Ophelia and Polonius are now all convinced Hamlet has gone insane and as the reader you may think so as well but this is all part of Hamlets plan. If Hamlet really were going insane Hamlet would not have the right intelligence to come up with such a good plan and think it through. Hamlet would not be aware of what he is doing if he really were insane but Hamlet is very cautious of what is going on, especially knowing what Claudius’s plan is on sending Rosencratz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet (Act 2 Scene 2) “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” Hamlet is telling them he knows what they were sent for. While reading the book Hamlet by William Shakespeare we need to think about these things before we come to a conclusion.
We also need to think about everything Hamlet has gone through throughout the book. We are aware from the beginning of the book that Hamlet was going through a lot of family issues. His mother got remarried to his uncle not to long after his father’s death and we need to think about how that would make us feel. An unknown author of the article “Hamlets Sanity” made a good point. The author stated that “The fact of the matter is that Hamlet is
extremely traumatized throughout the play. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one may be able to relate with the difficulty of dealing with all the circumstances that accompany such a tragic event.” What the author is saying anyone who has ever lost a close loved one will understand what Hamlet is going through. When someone close to you passes many people get into a state of depression and sometimes want to get revenge, as Hamlet did. We can tell Hamlet was depressed over his first soliloquy where he is talking to himself stating if he should live or not, “To be or not to be”. This makes it extremely obvious that he has been extremely impacted by his father’s death. As the unknown author also stated “there are not many events in a person’s life that can cause one to consider suicide as even a remotely reasonable course of action” this is remotely true. Not only is Hamlet upset that his father has passed but he is also upset that out of all people his mother married his uncle and he feels she was being very insensitive. The author of this article also made me realize another thing. Hamlet not only lost his father but later on lost the women he loved, Ophelia. “Arguably the most significant of those losses is the death of Ophelia. Her demise towards the end causes him more despair than he was letting on earlier in the play” mentioned in the article “Hamlet Sanity”. We as readers need to keep in mind that Hamlet is going through hard times as well as having a dysfunctional family.
People also see Hamlet as an insane murderer who killed everyone. When really all Hamlet was trying to do was get revenge on one person for a good reason, which was revenge for the killing of his father. He never meant to kill everyone else who got involved. If Hamlet really was insane he wouldn’t realize the consequences of his actions. In an article called “Hamlet’s Sanity put on Trial” by Peter Marks, they talked about the trial of Hamlet to decide if he a murderer or not because of his sanity. There was a quote that really jumped out at me in
this article. Kennedy, defending hamlet said "It's suffering, as in the human condition," he said. "He doesn't want us to see a madman. He wants us to see ourselves, in the mirror held up to nature." Which shows and proves that the way Hamlet was reacting to his father’s death and whole revenge thing is just a natural human being wanting to hurt the person who hurt his father. He never meant to hurt the others and wants the people to see he isnt a madman he is perfectly sane.
Hamlet is just as sane as any other character in the play written by Hamlet. He just deals with his problems differently. Now you may think otherwise but using all my supporting details, I believe Hamlet is a sane pretending to be insane. The answer will remain unknown.