Hamlet & Madness

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The idea of a character feigning madness is not unusual in great literary works; many authors use it to show the sanity of a character. This idea is apparent throughout Hamlet. In the masterpiece, there is much debate around the protagonist, Hamlet, and whether or not his madness in the play was real or feigned. Literary scholars have debated this for more than four hundred years. One of the possible reasons for the intense recognition of this play is the way Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s theme of madness to serve a motive, of how one must use deception in order to deceive others to get the truth.

In this play, the tragic hero contemplates his own concepts of moral judgement and in the process is considered mad. Hamlet claims to feign his madness, but is it debated that he actually has some characteristics of a madman. His madness can be defined by his inability to decide between right and wrong and to make appropriate decisions based on the standards of society.  

Hamlets circumstances in the play were a major contribution to his ‘madness.’ His father, King Hamlet, has just been murdered; his mother, Gertrude, had married his uncle Claudius only a short time after her late husband dies, stripping Hamlet from his natural right to the throne. The ghost of his dead father appeared to him with instructions to revenge Claudius for his murder and finally, his love Ophelia was no longer permitted to see him by order of her father. Although Hamlet’s mad act seems only to be in presence of Gertrude, Claudius, Ophelia, Polonius, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern. I believe that Hamlet is feigning his madness, after observing some numerous quotes from the play, shows that Hamlet is faking madness in order to camouflage his revenge for his uncle, a mad man could not behave logically and could not have, the ability to act normally to some people but madly to others.  But at some points in the play, over whelmed by grief I believe that Hamlet is genuinely in an antic disposition.  

The second act includes two soliloquies; it is in these that the depth of Hamlet's depression is revealed .The soliloquy opens with a reference to disease and decay : "Oh that this sullied flesh would melt / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew," (1.2.129-130) Here Hamlet is speaking of his own flesh and makes his first reference to suicide. He expresses great dissatisfaction with the state of the world. "How weary, stale,  flat and unprofitable / Seem to me all uses of the world !" (1.2.133-134). The conundrum of Hamlet's madness starts with Hamlet seeing his father, as a ghost, who asked him to get his revenge from his "beast uncle". The first proof, for Hamlet acting madness, is the reality of Ghost. If Hamlet was the only person to see the Ghost, we could be sure that he is really mad, but in Act I Scene I, the sentry, Barnardo and Fransisco sees the Ghost entering the Elsinore Castle three times, as they see together with Horatio, as Marcellus explains the appearance of the Ghost in these lines: "Horatio says 'tis our fantasy/ And will not let the belief take hold of him/ Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us. / Therefore I have entreated him along/ With us to watch the minutes of this night, / That if again this apparition come/ He may approve our eyes, and speak to it. / He may approve our eyes, and speak to it." and Horatio who did not believe the two guardsmen see the Ghost too. Therefore, this shows us that Ghost's existence is doubtless.

From the scene that Hamlet sees Ghost to the end of play, it could be observed by Hamlet's behaviours that he is acting the mad. He only reflects his feelings and ideas from the events to his best friend Horatio and he tries to message Gertrude that he is not mad at all but only behaving it when they talk in Gertrude's private room: "...It is not madness that I have uttered. Bring me to the test/ And I the matter will reword, which madness would gambol from....That's not your trespass but my madness speaks;...Forgive me this my virtue, / For in the fatness of these pursy times/ Virtue itself of vice pardon beg", "The death I gave him. So again, good night./ Imust be cruel only to be kind;/ Thus bad begins and worse remains behind." and ".....That I essentiallly am not in madness/ But mad in craft" (a3.s4.L140-200). If he was mad at all, he would not reflect himself that much clearly because a mad person would not have thought very rationally as we observe this in his words to his mother. It is clear that he speaks normally with his mother at this stage. Therefore, it is seen that Hamlet is determined to fake madness in front of people. On the other hand, when he is alone with her mother, because of his grief for his father and hatred for her mother for marrying Claudius, Hamlet first insults her mother in Act 3 Scene 4. However, when the Ghost reminded him about his revenge, he remembers he is only acting madness and he claims this to his mother.coga gar segagaw orga gak inga foga ga.

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The second character he tries to speak normally is his friend Horatio, as he discusses the events. For example, before his duel with Leartes he talks with Horatio normally as he explains how he found the letter of Claudius with command of his death and how he sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to England, to their death. Before Hamlet's play "Mouse Trap" started he explained his plot for organising such a play only to Horatio: "...There is a play before the king: On scene of it comes near the circumstance/ Which I have told thee of my father's death. / I ...

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