• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Hamlets madness, real or not?

Extracts from this document...


Hamlets madness, real or not? At any given moment during the play, the most accurate assessment of Hamlet's state of mind probably lies somewhere between sanity and insanity. Hamlet certainly displays a high degree of mania and instability throughout much of the play, but his "madness" is perhaps too purposeful and pointed for us to conclude that he actually loses his mind. His language is erratic and wild, but beneath his mad-sounding words often lie acute observations that show the sane mind working bitterly beneath the surface. Most likely, Hamlet's decision to feign madness is a sane one, taken to confuse his enemies and hide his intentions. On the other hand, Hamlet finds himself in a unique and traumatic situation, one which calls into question the basic truths and ideals of his life. He can no longer believe in religion, which has failed his father and doomed him to life amid miserable experience. He can no longer trust society, which is full of hypocrisy and violence, or love, which has been poisoned by his mother's betrayal of his father's memory. ...read more.


As he runs through his description of their marriage, he touches upon the important motifs of misogyny, crying, "Frailty, thy name is woman"; incest, commenting that his mother moved "[w]ith such dexterity to incestuous sheets"; and the ominous omen the marriage represents for Denmark, that "[i]t is not nor it cannot come to good." Each of these motifs recurs throughout the play. Explanation for Quotation 5 'to be or not to be.' This soliloquy, probably the most famous speech in the English language, is spoken by Hamlet in Act III, scene i, lines 58-90. His most logical and powerful examination of the theme of the moral legitimacy of suicide in an unbearably painful world, it touches on several of the other important themes of the play. Hamlet poses the problem of whether to commit suicide as a logical question: "To be, or not to be," that is, to live or not to live. He then weighs the moral ramifications of living and dying. Is it nobler to suffer life, "[t]he slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," passively or to actively seek to end one's suffering? ...read more.


In addition to its crucial thematic content, this speech is important for what it reveals about the quality of Hamlet's mind. His deeply passionate nature is complemented by a relentlessly logical intellect, which works furiously to find a solution to his misery. He has turned to religion and found it inadequate to help him either kill himself or resolve to kill Claudius. Here, he turns to a logical philosophical inquiry and finds it equally frustrating. Explaining his love for Ophelia/ relationships with female characters. Misogyny - Shattered by his mother's repugnant decision to marry Claudius so soon after her husband's death, Hamlet becomes extremely cynical, even neurotic, about women in general, showing a particular obsession with what he perceives to be a connection between female sexuality and moral corruption. This motif of misogyny, or hatred of women, occurs only sporadically throughout the play, but it is an important inhibiting factor in Hamlet's relationships with Ophelia and Gertrude. He urges Ophelia to go to a nunnery rather than experience the corruption of sexuality and exclaims of Gertrude, "Frailty, thy name is woman" (I.ii.146). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Is Hamlet's madness feigned or real?

    However, in different company, like that of Horatio, Bernardo, Francisco, the players, and the gravediggers, he is perfectly sensible and he displays his skills of witty and intellectual conversation. Horatio doesn't comment on whether he thinks Hamlet feigning madness is a good idea or not; he just tells Hamlet to be careful.

  2. How does Shakespeare present Hamlet's madness throughout the play?

    The audience could take Claudius' suggestion as being reasonable and that Hamlet's "Obstinate condolement" (Line 93), is evidence of a "mind impatient," (Line 96), especially as no one else in Elsinore seems to be mourning the King's death. However hamlet's mourning is justified as we learn in Act one, Scene

  1. Discussing Hamlets desire for vengeance.

    The extract abounds in imagery, repeatedly illuminating the themes of the play. For instance, similes can be found when the ghost "tells how hebenon spread through his body as 'swift as quicksilver' " (Andrews & Gibson, 2006: 264)

  2. Examine Critically, with reference to language, Hamlet's relationship with his mother Gertrude.

    His constant repetition of the time in which she took to remarry, "But two months dead..Yet within a month..A little month..Within a month... most wicked speed," suggests disgust at the situation and it is not necessarily the fact that she remarried; more the short time in which it occurred.

  1. Show how Hamlet's changing state of mind is made clear through Shakespeare's dramatic use ...

    This is the sort of thing you may expect to hear from a suicidal person. Hamlet is utterly shattered. I can't help but feel, because of language like this, that for most of the book Hamlet is constantly wrestling with the alluring possibility of suicide.

  2. Relation of Religion With “Hamlet”

    More theologically stated, the question is whether it is man's duty to redeem the fallen world. The ghost encourages Hamlet to take this task into his own hands. But as Northrop Frye has put it, the ghost's credentials are very suspect: "why does purgatory, as the Ghost describes it, sound

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work