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Is Hamlet Mad?

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Introduction

Is Hamlet Mad? In the fourth and fifth century B.C, melancholia was described as a disease, written by Hippocrates. It was though that it was caused by the dislike of food, despondency, sleeplessness, irritability and restlessness. It is now thought that melancholia is the same as our modern day clinical depression. In the time of Hamlet, cause of illness was based on the theory of 'the four humours', which stated that the bodily fluids; blood, yellow bile, phlegm and black bile all had to be balanced to maintain a healthy being. Each fluid was allied with the four elements; air, fire water and earth. It was thought that Hamlet had excess black bile; black bile was allied with the Earth element and meant that a person with too much of it would be gluttonous, lazy and sentimental, and had a melancholic disposition. In society today depression is not thought of being caused due to excess black bile but because of the person's physiological state, and it is causes are likely to be different for different people. ...read more.

Middle

Which I think means that he knows one thing from another and that he is bright enough to confuse his friends with this remark. I am quite sure that Hamlet was not in fact mad, but just feigning his madness, he even admits that he is planning to do so to Horatio during Act I, scene v, lines 166-180 and I think that Hamlet does so to cover up his 'revenge against his fathers murder' plan. Although, there are some facts that could point to Hamlet truly being insane. For example, in Act III, scene iv, lines 105, Hamlet is in his mothers chamber, with his mother and the ghost 'appears' but can only be seen by Hamlet, and another example is when Hamlet tells Laertes that he killed Polonious in a "fit of madness"(Act V, scene ii, lines 236-250). Although I have to take into consideration that his signs of madness may just be feigned. The courts perception of Hamlet is that he is mad, they have evidence to think this, Polonious already thinks that Hamlet is mad with love for his daughter Ophelia and after Hamlet accidentally murders Polonious, suspicion arises between al the court. ...read more.

Conclusion

The best-known soliloquy, the fourth, is not as passionate but more subdued and still does not show any significant signs of madness. This is where I feel that Hamlet was not truly mad, as surely there would be solid signs of this in his soliloquies. When considering the theory of how your gender effects how you cope with melancholy I feel that there may be a difference, if you take Hamlet and Ophelia, both suspected of suffering from melancholy they both seem to act on it in different ways. Hamlet seems to cope well, although at times he shows his melancholy, he appears to cope well. Whereas Ophelia seems completely insane! She performs acts that are completely random, such as handing out flowers and she begins singing songs to herself that don't really make sense to anyone. "He is dead and gone, lady, he is dead and gone..." (IV.V.29-30). Her state of melancholy and madness leaves her in such an unstable state, which finally leads to her death. Ophelia is seen as a weak lady; therefore she portrays her melancholy differently to that of a man. Alex Ingram ...read more.

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