Madness or Not-Shakespeare's Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude Pages: 4 (1565 words) Published: April 20, 2011
One common debate of scholars for hundreds of years has been whether Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Hamlet was insane or just pretending to be mad. As with many things in the play, the interpretation of this lies in the eye of the beholder (Pressely). To answer this question though we must know what insanity is. Webster's dictionary defines insanity as “a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder”. After reading and researching Hamlet thoroughly, we can come to the conclusion that Hamlet was not in a crazed state of mind but simply playing a role to fool others.

Hamlet experiences many states of mind throughout the play such as depression, sadness, and anger. In Act 1 of the play we learn that Hamlet's father is dead; shortly after his mother marries his uncle Claudius who becomes the king. Hamlet is said to be very gloomy and not himself, but this doesn't come as a surprise given the circumstances. In Act 1, Scene 4 Hamlet meets the ghost of his father. In the next scene the ghost tells Hamlet that he was poisoned by Claudius so that he could marry Gertrude and become king; the ghost then sends him to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”(1.5, 1375). Having a ghost say to go kill a man would make any man think he was a little crazy, but it didn't drive Hamlet to the point of madness. He then goes on to tell Horatio that he has not gone mad and if he is to feign madness than Horatio must not reveal that he knows anything (Woodlief). This leads us to believe that Hamlet has a plan to use a false act of insanity to his advantage.

At the beginning of Act 2 it is obvious that Hamlet begins to act out his plan to convince King Claudius that he is mad. In scene 1, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are summoned by the king and queen to find out the reason of Hamlet's newfound “madness”. Then in the next scene Polonius claims that he knows the reason behind Hamlet's insanity; his reason being that he is madly in love with Ophelia....
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