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Hamlet Sane Or Insane English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1481 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Hamlet and his sanity can be argued in many ways. In his play, Hamlet, Shakespeare explores two ways that are discussed for the possibilities of “his loss of control in his actions or his ability of dramatic art” (Hamlet’s Madness). When we first met Hamlet he is in a state of despair. He is an emotional young man who is struggling with the death of his father. His life is now consumed by depression. This to me is normal, for a person who has suffered a lost, of someone dear to him or her, as was his father. Through his representation of Hamlet’s human nature, Shakespeare conveys the idea that a loss in someone’s life can lead to insanity.

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“She married. O, most wicked speed dexterity to incestuous sheets”(I.ii.162-163). With the death of his father, comes his mother’s, Gertrude, second marriage. Hamlet looks at his mother and Claudius and he gets a feeling of disgust and repulsion. Hamlet had aspired to be like his father in all ways. This included taking his father’s place in his mother’s affection. Claudius took that place, a member of the same family, this bothered him greatly. Yet still Hamlet is seen as a stable individual. “But regardless of how grief stricken he might outwardly appear, his appearance cannot hold a candle to how miserable he feels inside”(Emotional Young Hamlet). Claudius comments to Hamlet that he is taking his father’s death to extremes, “To give these mourning duties to your father; But you must know, your father lost a father; that father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound/ in filial obligation for some term to do obsequious sorrow” (I.ii.94-98)

Claudius tells Hamlet that death is a part of the natural life and that soon he should get over it. Hamlet is obviously depressed. On starts off with a reference to disease and decay: “Oh that this sullied flesh would melt/Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,” (Act I.ii.129-130). Here Hamlet makes his first reference to suicide. He also shows how disgusted he is with the world. “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable/Seem to me all the uses of the world!”(I.ii.133-134) Here we can find feelings of depression and uselessness. With this Hamlet also finds disappointment at his mother since she seems to be okay after the kinds death. “His feeling are justified and his actions are rational at this point, he describes himself as being genuine”(Manic Hamlet).

When the tragedy begins, we meet Marcellus, Bernardo, and Francisco who guard the castle at night. While on watch a ghostly figure of King Hamlet appeared. Soon after Horatio tells Hamlet what has happened and at once Hamlet insists to be on watch to see his father’s return. The next night the king’s apparition appears. King Hamlet tells Hamlet that his brother murdered him. Hamlet asks his father ‘What should we do?’ I believe that this question is asking for guidance and a direction of purpose in one’s life.

“The ghosts response indicates that the doings of a corrupt mortal world are integrated within an eternal world. What Gertrude has done will be taken care of: `Leave her to heaven.’ But Claudius for his crime is not to be permitted to continue among men and enjoy his booty of crown and queen: `Bear it not.’ What is unendurable to heaven is not to be endured by men. Hamlet’s reaction to this communication is like a conversion or a baptism.

This news is what brings Hamlet into his depression. He criticizes himself for not “stepping up to the plate” and avenging his father’s death. Hamlet wonders, “How stand I then that have father killed, a mother stained”(Act IV.iv.58-59). He’s basically asking himself if he plans on doing anything about his father being murdered and his mother marrying his uncle soon after his father’s death. Now, “Hamlets’ composure, wit, and strength would now be tested to their limits. With one wrong slip of the tongue, one hateful glance, Hamlet would go straight to his death.”(Inner Hamlet) Hamlet then becomes mad hoping that his emotions will cause Claudius to admit the truth about killing King Hamlet

It seems to me that Hamlet does not have the will power to do much. His thoughts are all of thing he should do but he’s scared to take immediate action. It is as if he expects revenge to play itself. Ernest Jones concluded “whenever a person cannot bring himself to do something that every conscious consideration tells him he should do-and which he may have the strongest conscious desire to do-it is always because there is some hidden reason why a part of him doesn’t want to do it; this reason he will not own to himself and is only dimly if at all aware of. That is exactly the case with Hamlet.”

Throughout the second act the plot gets more ineresting as Hamlets’ mind begins to think of what the chance are that the king might confess. His love for Ophelia is strongly noted. Queen Gertrude wishes to use Ophelias’ love to bring her only son out of madness. Claudius wishes to do the same. His reason is different though. He basically just wants to be on the safe side and have his life out of danger. Once the king and queen notice this might work they persuade Ophelia to marry Hamlet.

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In this scene true madness is exposed. When Ophelia comes to him and talks about their love Hamlet plays smart and notices the little catch. Hamlet realizes that he must not have any feelings toward Ophelia. Hamlet tries hurting her with his insults. At one time he even mocks her sexual discretions by saying “Get thee to the nunnery!”(Act III.iii,121) In this scene he treats her very aggressively slamming her around. Once again he acts mad as if he never loved Ophelia. “This is a major component in refuting the argument that his instability is due to love sickness over Ophelia. In the later part of the play when Hamlet is not manic he express much feeling to Ophelia and when he finally did say something he insults her and showers her with the rage he feels toward the state of his world. The actions the Hamlet performs mirror the patterns of a manic depressive.”(Manic Hamlet)

Hamlet also has outbursts toward his mother. His outbursts seem to be out of jealousy, as a victim to the Oedipus complex. He alone sees his father’s ghost in his mother’s chambers. Every other time the ghost appeared someone else has seen it. During this scene he finally shows his madness, because his mother does not see the ghost. “On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!/ his form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones/ would make them capable”(Act III.iv.126-128)

Throughout the play, there are also supporting factors to argue Hamlet’s sanity, as these details compromise his madness, to balance out his mental state. Hamlet tells Horatio that he is going to feign madness, and that if Horatio notices any strange behavior from Hamlet, it is because he is putting on an act. [Act I,v.166-180] Other characters say that Hamlet’s actions are still unsure whether Hamlet’s insanity is real or fake. Claudius confesses that Hamlet’s actions although strange, do not appear to be from madness. “And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose/ will be some danger; which for to prevent/ I have in quick determination” (Act III.i.165-167) Polonius admits that Hamlet’s actions and words have a method to them; there appears to be a reason behind them, they are logical in nature. Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t [Act II. ii. 206] Hamlet tells his mother; “I essentially am not in madness/ but mad in craft. [Act III.iv.188-199]

Hamlet believes in his sanity at all times, and never doubts control over it. I believe in Hamlet’s sanity at first. But as things move on and more stress is put upon Hamlet, I believe he loses control of his sanity. Basically, it all got out of hand. Regardless, of sanity or insanity;

“Hamlet , a tragic hero, meets his tragic end not because he was sane or insane. He end tragically because of his own flaw, procrastination and grief. Whether he is sane or had lost control of his actions, both theories have their own support. The support makes each theory a sensible decision either way. Hamlet as seen from the beginning to end, a prince that was grieve stricken, until a prince of rage and passion, has developed through the stages by his own sanity and madness. Even is the madness was true or false, as Hamlet portrayed the role of a mad man, he took it upon himself to be lost in his control of actions.”(Hamlet’s Madness)


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