Insanity of Revenge
The act of revenge is simply madness. Through mans biological upbringings the desire for revenge on something or someone who has impaired ones life greatly is innate. Throughout time the human race has been exposed to many historical events of various tragedies in the search and desire of revenge on life altering events. Adding another historical tragedy in the desire for revenge, the play Hamlet written by Shakespeare, uses his main character Hamlet to depict how the yearning for revenge in man brings out much conflict, madness and confusion upon the surface of the one who seeks it. Hamlets depression and desire for revenge led him to his insanity; in the way he acts upon certain events and treats several characters throughout the play, one can see how the act of seeking revenge leads Hamlet to his insanity.
The death of a direct loved one creates the natural emotions of sadness and desolation; in terms of murder one may feel confusion, instability, and mere anger. In the beginning of the play Hamlet immediately expresses his emotions about his fathers death
“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the everlasting had not fix’d His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, See to me all the uses of this world!”(Shakespeare 21). From the very beginning, one can see Hamlet moaning about how depressed he has become over his father’s death and his mother’s remarriage to his fathers brother only a short time prior to his decease. With so much anger, confusion and melancholy built up within Hamlet one can only assume his depression will lead to unruly and unexplainable acts.
Ghost: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Ghost: Murder most foul, as in the best it is; But this most foul, strange and unnatural.
Hamlet: Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift As meditation or the thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge (Shakespeare 51).
After realizing Hamlet’s pure unhappiness the reader is introduced to an apparition of his dead father, who tells him that he was murdered and to seek revenge on his murderer. With no hesitation Hamlet takes it upon himself to agree to a murder. After the ghost informs Hamlet that Claudius had murdered his father he plans his next steps and warns his friends that he will pretend to be a madman. “How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself, As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on”(Shakespeare 58). With the vision of his dead father and the idea that Hamlet will “Pretend” to be mad in seeking revenge on Claudius and prior knowledge to his melancholy, it is only obvious that Hamlet is becoming insane.
Hamlet has been confidently diagnosed as a melancholic, a maniac and both—that is, a manic-depressive; he has been seen as a neurotic, most classically as one with unresolved Oedipal conflicts, but with a variety of other compulsions and obsessions; he has been pronounced a neurasthenic, a hysteric, a type of human degeneracy and a classical case of the malingerer. He has been approached as one who was criminally insane and had the extent of his criminal responsibility assessed (Bynum 392).
With the knowledge of Hamlets possible insanity—in the act of seeing his dead father, agreeing to murder in the search for revenge and his thought of pretending to be mad to seek this revenge, it is only seen further throughout the play how truly mad this act of revenge has made him. “The spirit that I have seen May be the devil: and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps Out of my weakness and my melancholy, As he is very potent with such spirits, Abuses me to damn me” (119). Hamlet is concerned that the ghost may be “the devil” and is trying to tempt him to murder Claudius without plausible cause. Not long before Hamlet states this, was he eager to murder the man who married his mother and