Essay on Characters in Hamlet

Submitted By bruno123321
Words: 978
Pages: 4

What Would Hamlet be without Insanity? The play Hamlet is without a doubt an odd story to read based on what society today has become accustomed to. A brother killing another brother, and then marrying his wife. It is not a typical story in the modern world today. There is a vast variety of different themes that can be traced throughout the play, however the most popular is madness and sanity. Madness and sanity shape the play into what it is, without madness and sanity the play would have no life. Certain actions would not occur, certain events would not occur, and certain statements would not occur. Hamlet is a perfect example in the thought of is he acting insane or is he truly insane? Hamlet could be considered a brilliant actor, only if you believe that he is not insane, he was not! Hamlet was always the smartest person in the room, whether he was two steps ahead of someone of one step behind, he always knew what to do. It can easily be interpreted that Hamlet is acting insane just to not leave a trail for anyone to follow. Hamlet opens up to the Horatio and Marcellus and tells them that he will act mad: “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself—As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on” (1.5.177). Hamlet is clearly doing this so Claudius will not see him as a threat and will think of him as harmless. Hamlet is insane while actually sane. This is a perfect example of Hamlet being the smartest person in the room, as well as a perfect example of how madness shaped the play. If Hamlet did not act mad Claudius could have seen him as a threat much earlier and attempted to kill him much earlier. Even to the reader Hamlet seems insane, remember the reader knows what Hamlet is thinking. What Hamlet decides to do is “pronounced to be so atrocious and horrible, as to be unfit to be put into the mouth of a human being.” (Coleridge 4). Hamlet here has the reader believing that he is insane, however he could just be blinded by rage and hatred for Claudius. Hamlet seems to be taking his “madness” to a whole new level that is unnecessary. He is on the brink of actually going insane; some critics actually do believe that he goes insane. However Hamlet is always in control of his actions and thoughts and always knows what he is doing: “When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, Or in th’incestuous pleasure of his bed, At game a-swearing, or about some act That has no relish of salvation in’t” (3.3.89). Hamlet is completely aware that Claudius is praying and he does not want to send him to heaven while Claudius sent his father to hell, it is not fair in his eyes. He is right. This scene can be understood as Hamlet is actually going mad because of the way he seems to lose control of himself and is starting to make killing Claudius personal. However, Hamlet always knows what he is doing: “Hamlet seizes hold of a pretext for not acting, when he might have acted so instantly and effectually: therefore, he again defers the revenge he was bound to seek, and declares his determination to accomplish it at some time” (Coleridge 4). Samuel Taylor Coleridge perfectly states in his essay on Hamlet how Hamlet is in control even though he is acting insane. He knows what he is doing and he then determines that he needs to act out against Claudius proving that he is just acting insane. Hamlet’s “insanity” did shape the majority of the play, however when Ophelia actually does go insane it has a great affect on the play. Ophelia truly goes mad when she enters singing nursery rhymes and handing out flowers. In the 1990 version of Hamlet