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Discussing the sanity of Hamlet.

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Introduction

Throughout the entire play, Hamlet portrays an irrational behavior that affects the work as a whole. His sanity is questionable and he could have been pretending to be mad in order to kill King Claudius. Through his conversations with Horatio, it is seen that he plans to pretend to be mad, but his actions during the course of the play call the reality of his madness into question. Hamlet's first act of strange behavior is demonstrated through spurned love. Hamlet approaches Ophelia, stares at her, simply runs his hand down her arm, and leaves. Polonius uses this action as a reasoning to Hamlet's irrational behavior , stating that Hamlet is mad for her love. Although Hamlet does show complete madness when speaking to Polonius, during his soliloquies he demonstrates complete lucidity when he plans to find guilt in the King. Hamlet reenacts a play of his father's murder and uses his madness to make sly remarks in order to prick the king's conscience. His behavior can be judged reasonable if his madness is indeed an act to provoke responses from the King and at last avenge his father. ...read more.

Middle

This shows careful planning and sanity. When returns to Denmark, he shows signs of insanity when he bursts out of hiding as he realizes that Ophelia has died. Right before his duel with Laertes, he apologizes to him. He claims to Laertes that Hamlet's madness is both of their enemies and therefore it is Hamlet's madness that's Laertes' enemy, not Hamlet. This could be Hamlet's understanding that his madness throughout the play was not entirely an act or it could just be an excuse for Hamlet's actions. The entire duel, Hamlet shows no signs of madness but instead shows his skill with the sword. At his death, Hamlet shows no signs lunacy, but rather shows foresight by giving his support to Fortinbras as the next king. It is never evident whether Hamlet is entirely mad or not because at the beginning of the play he says he will feign madness but later blames madness for his actions. His madness could have been completely feigned but it is also possible that the death of his father and Ophelia and the marriage of her mother actually caused him to lose his mind, as he sometimes claims. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, scholars have debated for centuries about Hamlet's hesitation in killing his uncle. Some see it as a plot device to prolong the action, and others see it as the result of pressure exerted by the complex philosophical and ethical issues that surround cold-blooded murder, calculated revenge and thwarted desire. More recently, psychoanalytic critics have examined Hamlet's unconscious desires, and feminist critics have re-evaluated and rehabilitated the often maligned characters of Ophelia and Gertrude. Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language. It provides a storyline capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others". During Shakespeare's lifetime, the play was one of his most popular works, and it still ranks high among his most-performed, topping, for example, the Royal Shakespeare Company's list since 1879. It has inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch and has been described as "the world's most filmed story after Cinderella". The title role was almost certainly created for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare's time. In the four hundred years since, it has been played by highly acclaimed actors, and sometimes actresses, of each successive age. *Background directly from Wikipedia* ...read more.

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