An analysis of the insanity of hamlet in the play hamlet

When Hamlet uses the proverbial expression "I know a hawk from a handsaw," he indicates that he remains mostly in control of his faculties and that he can still distinguish between like and unlike things.

is hamlet mad or pretending

Ophelia is portrayed as a weak character who is unable to think clearly for herself or to have any sense of individuality. The longer Hamlet waits to exact his revenge, the further he descends into madness and melancholy.

These words also contain a warning.

significance of madness in hamlet

Nothing is more so than a fondness of annoying those whom they dislike by ridicule, raillery, satire, vulgarity, and every other species of shame. Such an unfortunate should not be paraded before the public gaze in defiance of the common feelings of humanity; but in all kindness, be relegated to the charitable care of some home or refuge.

Hamlet madness scholarly articles

After the tragic death of her father, Polonius, who was killed by Hamlet, Ophelia is devastated. The madness displayed by each of these characters is driven, in part, by the deaths of their fathers, however they each portray madness in different ways even though their madness is driven by similar origins. Her madness seems definite, and it is never questioned. To accomplish this task in a less apparent manner, Hamlet decides to put an antic disposition on. Hamlet: Structure, Themes, Imagery, Symbols Laertes Near the end of the play, Laertes is frustrated and angry to hear about the death of his father. Polonius is the first to declare him mad, and he thinks it is because Ophelia has repelled his love. Rob the hero of intelligence and consciousness of moral responsibility, and you make the work devoid of human interest and leave it wholly meaningless. Conolly adverts, among other things, to Hamlet's exhortations to secrecy as among the symptoms of madness recognisable as such by all physicians intimately acquainted with the beginnings of insanity; to the flightiness and cynical disdain by which on almost all occasions his conversation is marred; to the gradual progress of the disease as described by Polonius; to his conversations with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exhibiting the acuteness which an insane man will for a short time display; to his extravagance of behaviour at Ophelia's funeral, etc. This change, he feels he cannot fully conceal, and, therefore, welcomes the thought of hiding his real self behind the mask of a madman. However, his mind is not able to justify murder for any reason; therefore, he truly goes insane before he is able to fulfill his scheme. If the other persons associated with him could at once discover that the madness was put on, of course the entire action would be marred, and the object for which the pretended madness would be designed would be defeated by the discovery. If during that interval he also comes to the decision that it will not be advisable to communicate to Horatio and Marcellus what had passed since he left them, there is nothing to be wondered at.

The fact that he has made it appear like real madness to many critics today only goes to show the wideness of his knowledge and the greatness of his dramatic skill.

Ophelia and Madness Conclusion Madness is one of the main themes of Hamlet. Sometimes it is faked, sometimes it is nonsensical.

Hamlets sanity vs insanity

Badger, James, St. By making the audience constantly question whether Hamlet is really mad or just pretending, Hamlet asks us whether the line between reality and acting is as clear-cut as it seems. Shaw, A. There, as neither the sexton nor the clown knows him, he is free to talk without disguise, and the most critical disputants of his sanity would be at a loss to find anything in his remarks which savours of a disordered mind. But he has baffled his companions by an appearance of strangeness, and it probably now occurs to him that a like simulation may be useful in the difficulties before him. Academic Search Complete. Between the first and second Acts a considerable time has elapsed, for Polonius's conversation with his servant shows that Laertes must have been in Paris for some weeks at all events [See iii. If, as Lowell has well remarked, Shakespeare himself without being mad, could so observe and remember all the abnormal symptoms of insanity as to reproduce them, why should it be beyond the power of an ideal Hamlet, born into dramatic life, to reproduce them in himself any more than the many tragedians, who, since Shakespeare's day, have so successfully mimicked the madness of the Prince upon the public stage? Hamlet certainly displays a high degree of mania and instability throughout much of the play, but his "madness" is perhaps too purposeful and pointed for us to conclude that he actually loses his mind. The mad role that Hamlet plays to perfection, is certainly a proof of Shakespeare's genius, but by no means a surety of the insanity of the Prince, unless we be prepared to maintain that no one save a madman can simulate dimentia. This makes Hamlet confused as to what he should actually do in response to seeing the ghost and drives him further into madness. Nothing is more so than a fondness of annoying those whom they dislike by ridicule, raillery, satire, vulgarity, and every other species of shame. Now, this is not immediately after the Ghost has left him, for he has had time for considerable reflection, and for writing down a memorandum as to the oath he has given to the Ghost.

This evidently is a declaration of his intention to be "foolish," as Schmidt has explained the word. To say that the Queen, and Polonius, and others thought him mad, is no proof of his real madness; but only that by his perfect impersonation he succeeded in creating this belief; and that such was his purpose is clear from the play.

Hamlet certainly displays a high degree of mania and instability throughout much of the play, but his "madness" is perhaps too purposeful and pointed for us to conclude that he actually loses his mind.

How to cite this article: Shakespeare, William.

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Hamlet's Antic Disposition