Madness in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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Hamlet is set in the late Renaissance of Europe, and also in a period of drastic and turbulent changes in British society. Humanism has been deeply rooted in people’s hearts, while there are many problems in the reality of British society, and the contradiction between ideal and reality is increasingly intensified. Which It advocates caring for people, respecting people and taking people as the center of the world outlook, and advocates equality of personality and mutual respect. It is in such a social environment that Hamlet is created by people with excessive desires, chaotic social relations and even more fierce social contradictions.

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By virtue of Hamlet’s “madness”, the original life of that “upside-down time” is shown to the readers. Although human madness is not a revelation of nature, but a return to nature itself, and Hamlet is ID itself. Hamlet acts as a fool to make others confused. No matter what he does, he is not being regarded as a normal person. However, he sees reality more clearly than anyone else, but places himself in a crazy world, struggling repeatedly in the whirlpool of reason and emotion, which would be completely separated from real life and makes him think and judge differently about the nature of life and the world. Regarding Hamlet’s madness, there are three aspects in my opinion, to help the ghost’s revenge, to marry his mother, and Hamlet’s own cultural connotation.

In Hamlet, Hamlet’s madness is actually related to the ghost who tells him the truth. According to Sigmund Freud, he says that the explicit behavior of human always expresses the implicit state of mind. Therefore, it can be said that the ghost is not external objective existence, it is the reflection of Hamlet’s psychology. That is to say, Hamlet becomes suspicious of a series of strange events in the kingdom of Denmark. He does not believe the explanation of his father’s death. When he believes in the revelation of the ghost without any evidence, Hamlet is transformed from a secular man into an ideal holy son of god. He looks down at the general public from an extraordinary perspective, but his mind is immature, he does not form a firm willingness, he is often blinded by hatred, but when his hatred does not vent, he become a crazy ghost. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell? Oh, fie! Hold, hold, my heart, And you, my sinews, grow not instant old, But bear me stiffly up. (Act1 Scene5 Line 93)

Hamlet is mad because of his struggle to help the ghost in the dilemma of revenge and his current status in the palace of the embodiment of life. When he knows the truth what the ghost says no one could help him Neither Hamlet’s friends, nor his lovers, nor his mother could help him. At the beginning, he does not consider the difficulty of revenge, so his revenge quickly fails, and then Hamlet’s words and behaviors have become more crazy.Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. from Act1 Scene5 can know his anger and his emotions when he heard the ghost’s words. Also, (since from now on I may find it necessary to act a bit crazy), you must never, ever let on with a gesture of your arms, or a shake of your head, or by saying something like Well, well, we understand, or We’d tell you if we could, or If we were allowed to speak, from( Act1 Scene5), this is what he said in a state of incomparable sobriety. From his words, we can completely deduce the sudden outbreak of madness, which is actually the foreshadowing of an early morning. He is both insane and always rational. From this we can see that the reasons for his madness are varied.

Through analyzing the revenge course shown in the text, we can find that Hamlet’s madness stems from his craziness, or his persistence and obsession causes him to lose the right direction and eventually fall into the insane state. Hamlet is too indecisive about love, the play describes Hamlet and reality, his irreconcilable contradiction between hesitation in the process of revenge, the tragic failure of the tragic ending of pain and sorrow, which makes him crazy. When he knows that it is his uncle who kills his father and marries his mother, he is full of desire for revenge. In Hamlet’s view, such this relationship is incestuous, which also shows that he fundamentally does not accept such love and marriage. He is obsessed with revenge, and revenge becomes one of the most important things of his life.

When hatred takes over his whole soul, he feels that the world has become abhorrent because everyone is on the opposite side of him, including his beloved mother. In act 3, scene 1, Hamlet says to ophelia, “are you a virgin?” “Are you a beautiful woman? Although it is said to ophelia, the implication is clearly to blame his mother. He is so unhappy with his mother’s infidelity in marrying her husband’s brother that he utters these words in the name of madness. If Hamlet is indeed mad and can blame his mother for her infidelity in the state of madness, it is enough to show that Hamlet really hates his uncle deep down and despises his mother, so that he thinks of the whole human race. Hamlet has been deeply in love with his mother, but when she was married to his uncle, he thinks that a mother’s love is cheap, he began to think about “survival or destruction, this is a problem,” he finally chose to destroy, Hamlet began to implement its own plan, with the love of the destruction from the king, ophelia, queen, their friends, finally to his own, heels one by one, until the final destruction. He has become obsessed with his own world of revenge. I have married my former sister-in-law and made her my queen and assured the continuity of our nation. In this marriage I know I’ve done exactly what all of you have been advising me to do all along. To all of you, my thanks. (ACT1 scene2, Line 11)

In this way, it is obvious that many ministers are on Hamlet’s side of his uncle Claudius, and nobody is going to investigate Claudius’ sins. In addition, Claudius is extremely defensive, Hamlet has been covetous, from the outset Hamlet is closely monitored. At this moment, Hamlet has realized the seriousness and irreversibility of the situation. In order to alleviate the unbearable burden in his heart, Hamlet has found the outlet of madness to facilitate his revenge. Hamlet’s book opens with the words “extraordinary relatives, indifferent passers-by” showing that Hamlet is extremely disgusted with his uncle who replaces his father and his mother’s rapid marriage, and can only vent his emotions through madness.One of the reasons for Hamlet’s madness is that the changes in the surrounding environment are too great for him to accept at once, and there is no way to vent. It is not acceptable for uncle and mother to get married quickly after father’s death, which makes Hamlet more determined to revenge for the ghost.

Hamlet’s insanity is a reflection on Renaissance culture and ideas, which is also Shakespeare’s summary and Reflection on Renaissance as a whole. Hamlet is a humanist as well as an idealist. On the surface, the direct cause of Hamlet’s insanity is his uncle’s unfaithful behavior. Hamlet’s original intention is to kill his uncle in revenge for his father, but when he sees that his uncle and his mother are close, he begins to blame his mother. By this time, the focus of his mind has changed, and he begins to doubt his mother, even all the women. With the deepening of his thoughts, he begins to think about life again, and then expresses the sigh of “survival or destruction, this is a problem (Act 3 scene 1 line5).

At this time, he suffers and doubts, full of doubts about life. He feels that life is meaningless, suicide is better, but he is afraid of death. He does not know whether he would go to hell after death. So in this monologue, he hesitates whether to be or not to be, or to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, that is, to live, to endure the injustice of life, old age, illness and death, or to stand up against the world. Hamlet begins to think about his fate, and doubt what is happening around him, whether he will continue to live like this crazily, or destroy everyone, including himself. To take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing the end of them. This shows that Hamlet has gone out of the haze of revenge and plunged into the abyss of the whole human problem. In the Renaissance era, social order was chaotic, morality was degraded, everyone pursued selfish desires, and individualism tended to be serious. In order to achieve personal desires, people can be king, incest, selling friends – this is not the world Hamlet imagined. In fact, the world is also in a state of chaos and madness. Hamlet began to doubt the concept of humanism.

From a cultural point of view, it is more like an image of a thinker. His insanity is another choice that can not be answered after reflection. Because the state of insanity may change from confusion to insight. What a great masterpiece mankind is and how noble reason it is! What a great power! What a beautiful instrument! What a graceful move! The essence of the universe, the primates of all things, but in my opinion, what is the life of this clay sculpture? Humans can’t interest me. No, women can’t interest me. from Hamlet, he was educated by humanism. In his opinion, human nature was great and beautiful. So he gave the warmest praise to human beings and life, but his sad experience made him doubt, so he had the second half of the lament of indifference to human nature.

This reflects the profound contradiction in thought of the people who received humanistic education like Hamlet at that time. Hamlet used his “madness” to highlight the importance of the indelibility of human nature and the justice of human existence. This is also Shakespeare’s own writing intention, showing the importance of humanism, is a reflection of human nature and rationality. So why I support Hamlet’s madness is to pretend to be mad. Although the blow he has experienced is absolutely reasonable to make a person really mad, he is not really mad because he is strong enough. Of course, he has also had depression and pessimistic disappointment, and even thought of suicide, but because of his inherent humanity. Soon he was inspired by the ideologies of doctrine, cultural upbringing and political consciousness and plunged into a political struggle between life and death.

In Shakespeare’s plays, madness always comes along with murder and death. As a drama, this constitutes an attractive point of view, because madness is closely related to dreams and illusions, which will bring joy to people rather than fear. The madness in Shakespeare’s plays is in the noble people, such as Hamlet, Ophelia, and so on. It also reveals the important role that madness plays in human existence. Rationality cannot bear these. Hamlet relies on madness to realize his revenge plan. Shakespeare has ulterior motives to integrate the techniques of drama into the formation of characters, so that Hamlet’s more cultural symbolism, Hamlet’s tragedy becomes an idealist. tragedy.

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Madness In Shakespeare's Hamlet. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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