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

A study of madness in Hamlet.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A study of madness in Hamlet I think that one of the most poignant themes of Hamlet is the presentation and importance of madness. We first see a glimpse of madness with Hamlet who pretends to be mad, using it as a cunning mask while he battles with his own mind and conscience over the idea of revenge. There is also the character of Ophelia who turns mad with grief when she hears of her father's death. Although while Hamlet is holding up this pretence of madness he slowly becomes drawn into a depression, which is so deep at some points it is unclear whether he is insane or deeply depressed, I would not call this depression madness in any way because the term madness is something more obvious. It is a very blunt expression, which automatically draws one to think so something very stereotypical; similar to how Hamlet deliberately acts. Also there is no actual evidence of Hamlet being insane. However insanity is considered to be the loss of control of ones mind and acting against society. This is almost irrelevant as the society where Hamlet exists is one that he constantly is fighting to go against the normal behaviour because of those in power and control. Hamlet assumes madness as a device while in pursuit of revenge; an aspect of the play I choose to question is whether Hamlet truly ever is mad. ...read more.

Middle

It is not a question of whether Hamlet truly is mad, because this we are not able to prove either way without personally questioning Shakespeare, it is more deciphering the act of madness from the deep depression and mental state which could be the cause of his actions later in the play and whether this grief descends into insanity at any point. Hamlet assumed a state of madness in order to complete the task given to him by his father, this mask was able to conceal Hamlet's true clever plan and distracted Claudius from knowing the truth, which is that Hamlet knows about him murdering his father. He tells us at the start of the play in his first soliloquy that he is in such a low state that he would consider killing himself had not god "fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter". This deep depression could be caused by his father's recent death and his mother's rapid remarriage. We do not know of Hamlets character before the start of the play so it is assumed his state of mind is caused by these occurrences. Too many of his "wild and whirling words" carry direct meaning for us to believe he's mad for any great length of time. In his 'mad' exchanges with his enemies, Claudius, Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, there is far too much method in his madness. ...read more.

Conclusion

The society sees Hamlet's madness as dangerous; it is a way of him expressing himself and this is often confused with rebellion. Hamlet presents an aggressive and dangerous distortion of the world and his mask consumes him where by the end of the play all of the normal society has left Hamlet and it is as though he is in his own society. It is a huge contrast to the insanity of Ophelia who simply spoke about her feelings and had no control over her mind. Although this is also going against the society because women were not meant to speak out. It was not correct for a woman to talk openly and behave how Ophelia was. The society of Elsinore is very controlling and do not see insanity as an illness but as a threat. The king sees Hamlet's madness as "turbulent and dangerous". He suspects that his madness may be a pretence and considers it to be more a depression but views Hamlet as a problem because of what he may say or do, with no control over his mind. So sends him away to England as an effort to control him and have him killed, but we can see through Hamlet's escape Shakespeare uses this to prove at this time he is not mad, he is simply clever. Hamlet has managed to prove his sanity by escaping this fate left for him by his uncle, this shows the state of mind of the prince has improved or was never mad to start with. 1 Samantha Ball20/04/07 ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the presentation of revenge in 'Hamlet'.

    4 star(s)

    All three are, ultimately, fatalities of Hamlets vendetta against Claudius, as Hamlet brings about the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and drives Ophelia to madness and suicide. Ophelia especially is very much a victim, as in obeying her father she loses Hamlet, and when Hamlet kills Polonious she loses him as well.

  2. Critical review of 'Hamlet'

    His behaviour is that of a child who feels resent towards a stepfather. He rejects her attempt to build a family together. He reminds her of exactly who she is and disowns her through their wordplay. For the first time, is able to reprimand her for her actions and is a real show of his anger.

  1. Hamlet's "antic disposition" is feigned. Discuss

    Although this may be due to revenge, the focus on the "incestuous sheets" and "adulterous" further supports the Oedipal. Moreover, if Hamlet's mind was completely focused on revenge, then he would have carried out the vengeful murder directly after the play.

  2. Consider how Shakespeare presents madness in the play and explain whether you think it ...

    She goes mad after Hamlet kills her father, but also because of the way Hamlet treated her - cruelly. He said to her that he loved her, and there were some hints that he had been intimate with her, but he treats her badly and even tells her that he does not love her.

  1. Was Hamlet the true cause of Ophelia's madness?

    There are many signs that lead reader to suspect that he carries guilt of his mothers 'incestuous marriage' and also that his angst and depression could possibly lead him to questionable insanity. In Hamlets first soliloquy he reveals how he cannot commit suicide because of 'canon'.

  2. An Exploration of the Way Shakespeare Presents Madness in 'Hamlet'

    The purpose of this particular soliloquy is to reveal just how upset and saddened Hamlet actually is regarding the sudden marriage of his mother to his uncle, who is now the King. It is in this soliloquy that we find out this is potentially the root of Hamlet's madness, and

  1. What, in your opinion, were Hamlet's reasons for delaying the killing of the King ...

    Claudius mentions this, in front of all his courtiers by saying 'for let the world take note / You are the most immediate to our throne' As Claudius is a smooth talker it sounds as if he is actually telling Hamlet that he need not worry and that he, being

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    Act IV. Scene ix. (IV. vii. 20-1.) Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone, Convert his gyves to graces. This simile is neither very seasonable in the deep interest of this conversation, nor very accurately applied. If the spring had changed base metals to gold, the thought had been more proper.

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