The Question of Hamlet’s Madness

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The question of Hamlet’s madness has been analyzed regarding the profundity of his “madness” and whether or not it goes to the extent of his beliefs. WIth this in mind, Hamlet is a play on how the Prince of Denmark,Hamlet,plots a scheme to essentially kill his father’s brother, however, his plans take a turn to self destruction of himself and others throughout the play.

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Furthermore, an essential part of his plan was to implement the concept of madness, but the unanswered question was it all for show or did Hamlet in reality go “mad”. Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s spree of insanity to prove one can put on the actions and face of madness ,yet it’s difficult to depart from it. Considering this, the meaning of madness is diverse in each way it is described and used throughout the play. In a like manner, Shakespeare uses the contributing factors of Hamlet’s “madness” and its aftermath to explain the extent of which his madness goes and who and how each character is affected.

In spite of this, the prospect of Hamlet’s “madness” is among acting sane and permitting people see him as insane for the duration of each act and scene. Considering the different meanings of madness or insanity, Hamlet portrays each definition of madness that vary from genuine madness and wise foolishness. Madness can be explained as foolish behavior, state of frenzied or chaotic behavior, or state of being mentally ill. Notably, the whole origin of his madness came from the hate and revengeful state of mind he has toward Claudius as well as his mother,Gertrude. For example, Hamlet uses the meaning of madness as being mentally ill in the beginning of the play and he does this by luring Claudius into a false sense of security. With this intention, Hamlet uses his sorrow and grief about the loss of his father to turn it into enmity towards Claudius.

The writer of this publication, Shakespeare, states “Haste me to know it, that I with wings as swift/As meditation or the thoughts of love/May sweep to my revenge” This actively illustrates how the ghost who claims to be the former King Hamlet uses the grief that Hamlet feels to seek what he wants most from the earthly world which is vengeance of soul. More importantly, Hamlet also shows his madness when he contemplates his purpose and presence on Earth which can be interpreted to be suicide. According to the play it states, “For who would beat the whips and scorns of time, Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely/undiscovered country from which no traveler returns” This line in the play gives an incite to what Hamlet presumes about death or the thought of sleep and never awakening is to escape the dreads of life. Additionally, he also leads the reader to believe that denial is madness and that the only person he thought highly of has been taken from him. Another way his madness is being shown is by his impulsive behavior towards people. Another way that madness is shown is through Hamlet’s actions. According to the play, it states ” How now a rat?” He draws his sword and stabs it through the tapestry, killing Polonius. This shows how his imprudent actions are ignited by fury and frustration. Indeed, it shows how sudden Hamlet seems to act giving little thought to the consequences of his actions.

Hamlet’s usage of madness and revenge has an outcome of destruction towards himself and for many others apart of his game. Throughout the play, Hamlets seems to use each character as a pawn in his little game of vengeance. For one thing, the death of Polonius by Hamlet sent panic waves to Claudius which then caused Claudius to make the decision to send Hamlet off to England to be killed. With this in mind, Hamlet switches the letter so that instead of him being killed that the handlers of this letters shall be killed which was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This demonstrates that in reality Hamlet was not mad per say instead he used wise foolishness to commit acts of madness. In the play, it states “I sat me down, Devised a new commission, wrote it fair/That on the view and knowing if these contents, Without debatement further, more or less, He should the bearers put to sudden death, Not shriving time allowed ” This depicts how his madness gives him an edge to get away with things even though it means sacrificing his colleagues lives.

Another example would include the death Laertes. For instance, the duel would have never happened if Hamlet would have not killed Polonius therefore not causing Laertes to blame Hamlet. Another death caused by Hamlet’s driven insanity would be his mother, Gertrude. This happened by Gertrude drinking to Hamlet’s success in the duel against Laertes. In the publication, it states “…I pray you, pardon me./The drink, the drink! I am poisoned. (dies)” This shows how it all leads to Hamlet’s impulsive action to kill anyone who stands in his way of him murdering Claudius.This shows how each character is tied to one another causing a domino effect. Moreover, Hamlet directly and indirectly causes the death of several characters and himself due to him being driven by chaotic activity also known as madness and his motivation of revenge and death. The whole characteristic and thought of Hamlet being mad has been perceived to be elusive and evanescent.

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The Question of Hamlet’s Madness. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved April 1, 2023 , from

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