Was Hamlet Insane Essay, Research Paper
Hamlet a hardy man, courageous, and worthy of eternal commendation, who arming himself with a crafty, dissembling, and strange show of being distract out of his mind, under that pretense deceived the wise, and crafty, thereby not only preserving his life from the reasons and wicked practices of the tyrant, but by an new and unexpected kind of punishment revenged his fathers death many years after the act committed . I am here to explain certain theories of Hamlets sanity. Some say he was sane and only pretending, and some say he was insane over certain that happened in his life.
I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a hand saw? (II.ii.376-7). This is a classic example of the ?wild and whirling worlds? (I.v.134) with which Hamlet hopes to persuade people to believe that he is mad. These words, however, prove that beneath his ?antic disposition,? Hamlet is very sane. indeed. Beneath a strange choice of imagery involving points of the compass, the weather, and hunting birds, he is announcing that he is calculatedly choosing the times when you appear mad. Hamlet?s madness was faked I think for a purpose. He warned his friends he intended to fake madness, but Gertrude as well as Claudius saw through it, and even the slightly dull-witted Polonius was suspicious. His public face is one of insanity but, in his private moments of soliloquy, through his confidences to Horatio, and in his careful plans of action, we see that his madness is assumed.
After Hamlet has discovered the truth about his father, he goes through a very traumatic period, which is interpreted as madness by readers and characters. With the death of his father and the hasty, incestuous remarriage of his mother to his uncle, Hamlet is thrown into a suicidal frame of mind in which ?the uses of this world? seem to him ;weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.?
Many ironies and misunderstands of the play cannot be understood without a proper awareness of this gap between Hamlet?s knowledge and the most others? ignorance of the murder. For, according to their own lights, Polonius and the rest behave as normally as they should be, obeying and flattering a king whom they acknowledge as their great ruler. Hamlet, for his part, is so obsessed with the secret murder that he overreacts to those around him, rejecting overtures of friendship and becoming embittered, callous, brutal, and even violent. His antisocial behavior gives the others good reason to fear him as a menace to the state. Nevertheless, we share with Hamlet a knowledge of the truth, and know that he is right whereas the others are at best unhappily deceived by their own blind complicity in evil.
No man was in his right state of contemplates suicide and would take his life due to human frailty. Either his love for Ophelia was never strong as he said, which in doubt, or he has really gone insane by assuming every situation is going to happen and he sacrifices her love for revenge. Throughout the play, there are also supporting factors to argue Hamlet?s sanity, as these details compromise his madness, and that if Horatio notices any strange behavior from Hamlet, it is because he is putting on an act. [Act I, scene V, lines 166-180]. He knows that he is not the same as he used to be and fears he is going insane, so by telling his closes friend that he is just an act, he covers his tracks.
It is no, nor it cannot come to good…but break my heart, for must hold my tongue.? All he can do in this frustrated state is to lash out with bitter satire at the evils he sees and then relapse into suicidal melancholy. Hamlet has mood swings as his mood changes badly throughout the play. Hamlet appears to be insane, after Polonius?s death, in act IV scene II. In conclusion, Hamlet was a genius. In his mind were thoughts and plans in which he always knew each persons next step before they did it. Due to his procrastination and thoughts of revenge he became so overwhelmed with every situation and plot that he entangled himself in his own schemes and had to sacrifice his sanity. Only then did he truly become insane and couldn?t control the web that he was weaving. Even if the madness was true or false, as Hamlet portrayed the role of a madman he took it upon himself to be lost in his control of actions.
Two recent writers, Mr. J.M. Robertson and Professor Stoll of the University of Minnesota, have issued small books which can be praised for moving in the other direction of Hamlet?s attitude. Mr. Robertson points out, very closely how critics have failed to there ?interruption? of Hamlet by ignoring what out to be very obvious: that Hamlet is a stratification, that it represents the efforts of series of men, each making what he could out of the work of his predecessors. Also Mr. J.M. Robertson states that ?I do not believe Hamlet was insane, but merely pretending.? Mr. Robertson clearly states that Hamlet was insane.
Other critics do not believe this fact though. Professor Stoll from the University of Minnesota, believes that Hamlet was insane. For me this is very rare. This is the first critic that I have read that thinks that Hamlet was not insane. Professor Stoll says ?Hamlet was truly insane. He spoke to himself when he was alone, he had strange mood swings, he hated his mother, and always talked about death?. Professor Stoll does have a point, but Hamlets real reasons for these acting were to get revenge for his father?s death, and in order to get his thoughts together about his revenge on the killer he had to put on an act and not be himself.
Some writers are even known for saying that Shakespeare was insane, and he was using Hamlet as his impersonator. I find this fact somewhat true. In half of Shakespeare?s tragedies someone has either went insane or was already insane. Othello, The Moor Of Venice he went insane when he found out that his wife was cheating on him, which was not true. Romeo and Juliet, Romeo went insane over his love for Juliet. In Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. I can not say whether he was insane or sane. myself I say that he was sane, but from his actions throughout the play it makes it seem as if he was insane. And also in Macbeth and in Julius Caesar. Five out of ten William Shakespeare?s tragedies contains insanity either one of his characters are insane or is becoming insane.
In conclusion I do believe that Hamlet was, indeed, insane, but only at certain points in the play. He may appear insane to the people in the play; however, in his soliloquies to the audience, Hamlet is perfectly sane. On parts where Hamlet appears to be insane is when the Ghost comes into the play.
Outside of those occasions, Hamlet appears to thing and act like a normal person, based on the knowledge of events he has. Why is he only insane when he talks to the ghost? Because the Ghost is not the ghost of Hamlet?s father, as we would think of it. It is a demon that has come to haunt Hamlet of his fathers death. My reason for this is, several elements of the play says that the cries of the Ghost comes ?from below, meaning that the cries are coming hell.
Also the Ghost does not show up again in the play until Hamlet is on the verge of forgiving his mother. The presence of the Ghost is to remind Hamlet of the tragedy of his fathers death and to make him go insane over that. Another person that could have triggered Hamlet?s fake insanity, is his love Ophelia. Her plight is symbolic of the one of the main themes of the play. How leaving her inner, and emotional ?dichotomy? untended can only lead to insanity, and ultimately, tragic death. Hamlet loves Ophelia so much that to see her in this condition is driving himself insane even more. While Hamlet is torn between love for his mother and his duty to his father (or what is left to be of his him), he clearly puts on a front to the people that he is insane, because he wants no one to see his the pain that lies inside of him.
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