English Research Paper
Hamlet: Insanity and Madness
In the play, “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, it portrays a tragic protagonist, Hamlet, who faces challenges and his inner self in order to accomplish his destiny to murder the individual who murdered his father (Sparknotes). Although he may seem to behave in such a way where other characters would call him insane, he was actually being rational about his behavior: there was a method to it. He was only acting insane in order for his plan to kill Claudius to succeed. At times, the audience would have believed hamlet was really insane due to what he was going through but Hamlet was only “mad” at certain times toward certain characters and he knew what he was doing (Vandervert). There were even times when he even told his family and friends that he was being insane for a reason and furthermore, some characters doubted his behavior as a farce. Throughout the play, there were many situations where the audience felt Hamlet was being overcome by his madness due to what he had to go through. From the beginning of the play, Hamlet was seen as a mournful, grieving, melancholy character with his “pale face, tousled hair, and intense, brooding eyes” (Mabillard). It was obvious
Kim 2 that Hamlet was deeply distraught due to the death of his father. However, his outward appearance didn’t even compare to how much grief he was feeling inside:
For they are the actions that a man might play,
But I have that within which passes show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
Furthermore, when Hamlet saw the ghost who closely resembled his deceased father, the ghost commanded him to kill Claudius. The ghost stated, “I am your father's spirit, doomed for a certain period to walk the night, and for the day confined at a post in Hell. I am a ghost until my deeds are made right. I cannot tell you why I am a ghost, but I can tell you a story. If you love me, you will avenge my death” (Willyson.com). First of all, talking with a ghost certainly doesn’t mean you’re well in the head. To the audience it shows Hamlet as being truly insane. However all the stress he had to deal with might’ve led him into this state. After all, Gertrude, his most loving mother, was about to marry his father’s murderer in less than one month after his father’s funeral. This tortures him and rips his very well being apart (Mabillard).
Even though Hamlet was going through so much grief and anger, he didn’t truly become mad. It was only an act for him to succeed in murdering Claudius. The most obvious act of madness Hamlet portrayed was how he behaved towards Ophelia. It was
Kim 3 true he loved her dearly based on his letters and gifts for her but after his father’s death, he treated her most cruelly.
I have heard of your paintings well enough
God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, you nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance.
From their conversation, it shows how much he loathes her. However it was in order to make Claudius believe he was indeed mad. Even when during the play Hamlet set up for Claudius, he suddenly acts completely different than he did before. He acts really nice to her and even declines sitting next to his own mother to sit next to Ophelia. One might say he really was crazy then. But it was just an act to deceive everyone around him. It seemed he didn’t want Claudius to view him as