Hamlet as Genius or Maniac

“Hamlet. Most people including myself might ask is he actually a genius or if he is a maniac bent on scheming and revenge. Some may have different ideas and theories on this very question but maybe after reading this paper I have shed some light and clarity on the question and cleared up some confusion. This critical analysis will be separated into three different sections starting with Hamlets initial showing of the madness people believed he had and what may have triggered it. Secondly, I will provide an analysis describing why his revenge for his dad was delayed, and to close up this paper I will discuss Hamlet planned as well as carried out his revenge.

Hamlet seems to be crazy and rational state of mind from the opening act until the ending of the fifth scene however I believe its clear that myself as well as others begin to see a change in the second scene. One might also argue that from the beginning he also gives the impression that he’s insane as well, because every time he interacts with other people, he plays foolish, acts crazy and wild but he’s completely different when he’s alone with Horatio. In order for a person to be “mad” one would need to act that way all the time so Hamlet wasn’t mad however he did pretend to be so that he could express his feelings, create new ideas and gather pertinent information that he wanted. In the beginning Hamlet was informed by the ghost that his father was killed by Claudius and that combined with his mother getting remarried quickly, “The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables,” very well could have led people to believe that he was actually “mad” but he actually displayed signs of sorrow more that madness or anger. Hamlet was not mad for a few reasons but let’s examine the main reason. What is the definition of insanity? “It’s the state of being seriously mentally ill” or losing touch with reality, and with that being said, it’s clear that Hamlet always has a clear understanding of all the situations and he is fully aware of the consequences of his action so therefore he was never “mad”.

A couple of things let to the delay in revenge for the murder of his father, firstly is was some time before the ghost of his father actually appears and informs Hamlet that he must revenge his death “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” after hearing his fathers ghost he believes it to be an honest spirit “Its an honest ghost I tell you.” Once again from this moment we question if Hamlett is in sane or not. One would obviously question if a man sees his fathers’ ghost could he actually be insane, but of course he could if he was pretending to be. The second thing that delayed his revenge was the fact that Hamlet began to question and doubt the words of his fathers’ ghost. He tries to figure out if his fathers’ ghost is actually an “evil” or “friendly” ghost. When Hamlett greets the players after their arrival at the castle, he begins to put a plan together that he feels can be used to prove that Claudius is in fact guilty of murdering his father. His plan was to “have these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle” and while the play is carried out, he wanted Horatio to watch Claudius’ reaction.

It’s clear to me that when this play is performed, Hamlet acts more insane than any other time throughout the whole play. Hamlet goes as far as lying his head in Ophelia’s lap saying, ‘Lady should I lie in your lap” and “or look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within two hours.” His whole strategy was to draw attention of Claudius and Gertrude by pretending to be insane, however he is back to himself acting very sane when he was talking to Horatio. Hamlet was just as sane as could be while plotting and planning his next move, but he felt like he needed to make Claudius believe he was truly insane. This was a very well thought out plan because Hamlet felt that by hiding behind madness, he would not be looked at as actually committing violations against the crown, and this plan worked because the King knew that in Denmark the people loved Hamlet. If the king was to take Hamlets life because of short acts of madness, his country and people would turn on him. Hamlet challenged Claudius, Polonius and Gertrude but cleverly so as not to be held accountable for any wrong intentions perceived by them. Hamlet stays out of sight so to speak until his return from England after of the death of Polonius and after he returns, he also finds out that Ophelia had taken her on life. At this point Laertes would like revenge for his father’s death, which leads to Laertes challenging Hamlett to a fencing match, in which Hamlet will have to defeat him to retain his honor. Just like Hamlet the King had a plan of his own to take care of Hamlet so he filled a cup full of poison that was intended for Hamlett but was consumed by Queen Gertrude and proved fatal to her. During the match between Hamlet and Laertes Hamlet acts a little insane but overall maintains his composure and ends up winning the match however Laertes has also put poison on his blade so even though Hamlet won the match the poison blade was able to cut Hamlet and prove fatal. Before dying Hamlet was able to kill Laertes but before killing him, Laertes ask Hamlet for forgiveness and quickly pointed blame at King Claudius ‘the king is to blame”, which let Hamlet know that he had once again been deceived and betrayed by his uncle the King. After killing Laertes, Hamlet turned to the King and stabbed him with the poisonous blade.”

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