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Is Hamlet acting or is he really insane?

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Hamlets confrontation with Gertrude leaves her questioning her son's sanity. This is because she attests to him talking to thin air, which he claims was his father's ghost (3,4). It seems like Gertrude has every right to think Hamlet is mad. Her judgement is also fuelled by Polonius' murder. Hamlet did not know that Polonius was the spy behind the curtains 'how now, a rat?' (3,4,24). Hamlets response to his mother is not full of love either. He is disgusted with his mother's actions and is not ashamed of letting her know. '...Live in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed...' he does not hid his hatred for Claudius and Gertrude's marriage. But Gertrude does not seem to understand why her son holds such strong feelings. She is clueless throughout most of the play. 'As kill a king?' Gertrude does not realise the real situation and how much hatred the two men bare. She is one of the reasons that stopped Claudius getting hamlet killed throughout the play. And when he finally decides to, she dies before both of them. Gertrude is not the only woman in Hamlets life. ...read more.


But there are two reasons behind this. One is for the more obvious- his father's murder- however, the second reason is more complicated. Hamlet's main focus at the start of the play was revenge. However, other issues like his mother's bed and whom she shares it with steers him away from his mission. If Hamlet does have an Oedipus complex, then this could be one of the reasons why his relationship with Ophelia is could not last. The result of their complicated love is Ophelia loosing her mind and committing suicide. Unlike hamlet, Ophelia lost all sense of sanity and looses control. However hamlet can use his supposed 'madness' to confuse and manipulate the likes of Polonius. Ophelia's madness leaded her to suicide, which is something that Hamlet considered but could not come through with. Hamlet has to put up a guard throughout the play to try and hide some of his feelings. We witness an example of this when he tells Ophelia when he tells her he does not love her anymore and to Polonius after he murders him. ...read more.


Claudius is also confused about Hamlet's sanity and he faces guilt throughout the play. Claudius knows that him killing his own brother for the throne didn't go unnoticed by Hamlet. Claudius is suspicious about whether or not Hamlet is acting mad and putting on a show. He senses that Hamlet knows the truth about his father's death. This is why Claudius confesses whilst praying 'A brother's murder.' (3,1,380) what he does not know is that Hamlet hears him. It comes across to the audience that Hamlet is mentally disturbed. However we also find out that Hamlet is a capable actor. His behaviour is differs around different people. Next to Horatio and the players, he is fine and could even be seen as normal (3,2). In conclusion, Hamlet's behaviour is so diverse, that the audience cannot tell whether he is acting or really insane. His behaviour towards women, compared to his friends is completely different. However, hamlet was still in a state of grief which Claudius could not understand. Hamlet was obviously not happy with his life and he even considers suicide. William Shakespeare always shows two sides to Hamlet. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This essay makes a lot of interesting points about 'Hamlet'; however there is no real structure to the essay in terms of addressing one question and relating points to that question. It is important when analysing a play that is as long as 'Hamlet' that there is a clear focus and structure to the response.

3 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 26/04/2013

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