Hamlet's Sanity Essay
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Throughout Shakespeare?s play, Hamlet, the main character, young Hamlet, is faced with the responsibility of attaining vengeance for his father?s murder. He decides to feign madness as part of his plan to gain the opportunity to kill Claudius. As the play progresses, his depiction of a madman becomes increasingly believable, and the characters around him react accordingly. However, through his inner thoughts and the apparent reasons for his actions, it is clear that he is not really mad and is simply an actor simulating insanity in order to fulfill his duty to his father.
Hamlet only claims madness because it allows him to say and perform actions he otherwise would be prohibited from, while keeping people from…show more content…
On the other hand, Hamlet acts perfectly sane when acting insane is unnecessary. When he talks to Horatio about watching Claudius for signs of guilt during the play, he says ?Give him heedful note, for I mine eyes will rivet his face, and, after, we will both our judgments join in censure of his seeming (3.2.87).? His words to Horatio are those of a sane man. Horatio is one of the few people to whom he does not need to prove he is ?insane,? and as such, he does not try. Also, when he is explaining to the players how to act, he is surprisingly organized and natural sounding. For example, he asks ?You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would set down and insert in ?t, could you not (2.2.565)?? His question is direct and simple as all his instructions are, and it seems that the player not only understands completely, but also is comfortable with Hamlet and what he asks. It is much more plausible that a sane man could play an insane one, than an insane man could play a sane one, and so reason would deem Hamlet sensible.
Additional proof that Hamlet must be sane is that even in his ?madness? he is clever in his retorts and speech, and has a full understanding of the situations around him. He plays his madman character almost too well, and each phrase he utters appears to be an attempt towards conveying his
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Hamlet: A Sane Man
Hamlet was indeed a very sane man. He was only feigning madness to further
his own plans for revenge. His words were so cleverly constructed that others
will perceive him as mad. It is this consistent cleverness that is the ultimate
evidence of his complete sanity. Can a mad person be so clever? No, a mad person
cannot. Hamlet is sane and brilliant.
After Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus see the ghost, Hamlet tells Horatio
that he is going to "feign madness". If Horatio is to notice Hamlet acting
strange it is because he is putting on an act. "How strange or odd some'er I
bear myself/(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet/To put an antic
disposition on)/That you, at such times seeing, never shall,/With arms
encumbered thus, or this headshake ,/Or by pronouncing of some doutful
phrase,/As "Well,well,we know," or "We could an if we/would,"/Or "If we list to
speak," or "There be an if they/might,"/Or such ambiguous giving-out, to
note/That you know of me-this do swear,/(I,v,190-201).Hamlet states that from
this point forward I may act weird but to ignore my acts of madness for they are
just that, acts, and are in no way a sign of true madness. Only a sane and
rational person could devise such a plan as to act insane to convince others
that he is insane when he actually has complete control over his psyche.
Hamlet only acts mad when he is in the presence of certain characters.
When he is around Polonius, Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and
Guildenstern he acts completely irrational. When Hamlet is around Horatio,
Bernardo, Fransico, the players, and the gravediggers Hamlet acts completely
When Hamlet and Polonius meet in II,ii Hamlet calls Polonius a
fishmonger and makes strange conversation with him. In IV,iii Hamlet refuses to
tell Claudius were he has hidden the body of Polonius and goes on about how
Polonius is at supper. When Hamlet encounters Gertrude in her closet, an unusual
place, in III,iv. He yells at his own mother. In II,i Hamlet enters Ophelia's
closet, a highly unusual act, he is dressed badly, and acts very strange towards
her. Claudius and Polonius set up a clandestine meeting between Hamlet and
Ophelia in III,i. Ophelia then tries to return some gifts that Hamlet gave to
her and Hamlet claims that he did not give her any gifts and that he never loved
her at all. During the play in III,ii Hamlet sexually harasses Ophelia in front
of the entire audience of the play. In IV,ii Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencratz
and Guildenstern where he has hidden the body of Polonius. Hamlet has Rosencratz
and Guildenstern, two people that used to be his friends, put to death in
On all occasions when Hamlet is in contact with Horatio, Bernardo,
Fransico, the players and the grave diggers Hamlet acts like a completely normal
person under complete control of his psyche. Only a person that was truly sane
and had a definite purpose behind a feigned madness could pull off such
believable acts of feigned madness.
Even Claudius and Polonius believe that Hamlet is not insane.
"Love? His affections do not that way tend/Nor what he spake,
though it lacked form a little,/Was not like madness. There's
something in his soul/O'er which his melancholy sits on brood
/And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose" (III,i,176-180).
Claudius states Hamlet's emotions are not from love. What he does is not like
madness, but it has a higher purpose. Hamlet knows something is amuck and that
he is going to set things right. His madness is part of a plan that he has which
is about to be hatched.
"Though this be madness, yet there is/method in't" (II,ii,223-224).
This occurs when Polonius and Hamlet are talking and Hamlet is acting unusual
and Polonius clearly states that he believes that there appears to be a reason
behind Hamlet's actions and that they are logical in nature.
Shakespear gives a definite example of someone who has definitely gone
mad in the play Hamlet. Ophelia is definitely crazy. After being rejected by
Hamlet and the Death of her father she just could not handle it anymore. She
went around dancing, singing about death, erratic behavior, and ultimately her
"death". She just could not handle everything that had happened to her and gave
up. On the other hand Hamlet is not crazy, he has complete control over his
Hamlet tells his mother that he is not mad. "That I essentially am not
in madness/ But mad in craft" (III,iv,209-210). Hamlet states, that he is not
crazy in a sense that he has lost it completely and gone totally insane, but
crazy like a fox. He has a plan to avenge his father's murder.
Hamlet is not mad. Everything he does has a purpose to it. He is out to
avenge his father's murder. The facts that support this argument are Hamlet
tells Horatio that he is going to feign madness, Hamlet only acts mad in front
of certain characters. Claudius and Polonius believe that Hamlet is not mad but
that there is a purpose behind his madness, Shakespear gives an example of a
truly mad person, and that Hamlet tells his mother that he is not crazy. These
facts prove beyond a doubt that Hamlet had complete control of psyche at all
times throughout the play.
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