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Hamlet as a Pretender of Insanity Essay


March 12, 2008

Pretending Hamlet

Hamlet is the one of the most popular and incredible literature which was written by Shakespeare. Hamlet is the main character in this literature and he is the prince of Denmark who acts like insane after his fathers death. However, is Hamlet really in insane or mad? Is he really acting of being mad? The answer to this question is no. He is pretending to be insane. He is quite emotionally upset. Unfortunately his mother married to his uncle two months after the death of his father, and another unfortunate fact is that his own girlfriend Ophelia is spying on him on kings order. Hamlets father was murdered by King Claudius. The matter of fact is that hamlet does have a plan to act mad or insane in front of everyone in order to hide his true intentions to avenge his fathers death. Hamlet makes others believe that he is really insane by talking to his fathers ghost and by reacting mentally retarded. However, he does his job completely foolproof of pretending being mad because he is dramatically genius. Hamlet is not mad. Therefore, he merely feigned it to accomplish his end of vengeance.

Hamlet madness plays an important role in the story. The ghost of Hamlets father visits Hamlets friends and later, Hamlet to inform him that his death prior was a foul and most unnatural murder. Ghost said, Murder most foul, as in the best it is;

But this most foul, strange and unnatural. (3.ii. line: 33-34). Then ghost explains to Hamlet that how his brother Claudius killed him by pouring poison in his ear. Ghost tells, tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death. Ghost gives the details of the murder that, while he was taking a nap in his orchard, Claudius poured poison in his ear; the poison curdled his blood and rose to his skin, until his body was covered a vile and loathsome crust. And not only his crown but also his queen is stolen from him all at once. Claudius has an adulterous affair with his wife and he killed me so he can marry with his wife and become the king of Denmark. Besides that the Ghost asks for a promise from Hamlet that he will get the revenge. Finally the Ghost leaves and Hamlet gives his words to it. Hamlet vows revenge. He declares that he will get the revenge of his fathers unnatural death.

Hamlet was in completely depression after his fathers death; however by this knowledge that his father was not died by natural death but because his brother murdered him, this makes him rouses him from his depression, and gives him the excitement for the revenge. Right after when the Ghost leaves, he informs his close friends that he will feign madness in his vengeful quest.

To put an antic disposition on,

That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,

With arms encumber'd thus, or this headshake. (1. V. line: 185-187)

Hamlet gets the promise from his friends, from Horatio and Marcellus to keep everything they have seen this night a secret. They get agree with Hamlet and swear to keep their mouth shut and pretend like they do not know anything. Hamlet explains that how he will reach to his vengeances by acting like insane and mad. He already tells them before that they will see him doing silly things and acting like insane, but he will be doing this so then he can get control on others thoughts about himself and can get closer to Claudius. Because, otherwise it is very dangerous to take an action against Claudius, because the unfortunate fact is that he is the king of Denmark.

It is genius that Hamlets behavior contrasts with that of Ophelia who is genuinely insane. Shakespeare does not directly pit Ophelia's insanity against Hamlet's madness. There is instead a clear definitiveness in Ophelia's condition and a clear uncertainty in Hamlet's madness. Obviously, Hamlet's character gives more evidence of madness, while Ophelia's breakdown is quick, but more conclusive in its precision. The important key originates when Hamlet tells Horatio that he is going to feign madness, and that if Horatio notices any strange behavior from Hamlet, it is because he is putting on an act. It has been noticed clearly that there is no consistency in hamlets madness. It changes depending on whom Hamlet interacts with. When Hamlet is around Polonius, Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he behaves irrationally, because he knows that they are spying on him. However, Hamlets behavior is different around Horatio, Bernardo, Francisco, and the actors whom Hamlet convinces to reenact the murder of his father so that he can judge Claudius reaction. Polonius also admits that Hamlet's actions and words have a "method" to them; there appears to be a reason behind them; they are logical in nature. On one occasion, he tells his mother that he is not mad. Hamlet says, ay me what act, but mad in craft. (3.4 lines: 188-199). Hamlet's actions in the play after meeting the ghost lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy, yet that madness is continuously checked by a consciousness of action, which never lets him lose control. Later hamlet says, I am mad but north-north-west, when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk form a handsaw.(2.II lines 402-403). By saying this Hamlet tells us that what he thinks of his own madness in a conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He recognizes right away that they are spying on him. He secretly tells them that he could distinguish between things that did not resemble each other. He tells them that he knows exactly what they are trying to do. But they would never get success in their goal.

Hamlet loves Ophelia and Ophelia too. However Ophelia thinks that the death of hamlets father made him mad and insane. Hamlet meets Ophelia and talks with her in anger with madness. He actually complaints about what she is doing and asks her why she is not with him. It makes hamlet madder because she is his girl friends and if she is not even supporting him then nothing left to say anything. Right after when hamlet leaves Ophelia, she goes to her father and explains that hamlets insanity is reached to extreme now. She tells that how badly he treated her. He held her very hardly and tried to come closer to her. Ophelia says, He took me by the wrist and held me hard. Then goes he to the length of all his arm. That hath made him mad.(2.I) She thinks that the reason of his being mad is the hate of his fathers death, which she understands but now she does not trust him because everything he does is retarded and makes other believes that he has lost his mentality.

Hamlet never was mad. The entire purpose was to get the revenge and yes he did get the revenge by killing king Claudius. Anybody whose lifes story involves his mother marrying her brother-in-law two months after her husbands death will not react with stoicism. Any normal human will be mentally disturb naturally and will get angry. Hamlet took each and every step by his own organized plan. He had gone to extreme in order confirm the fact, that his fathers Ghost told him. The anger from his father's murder is understandable. However, it can also be said that hamlet is a little crazed by the notion that his uncle king Claudius killed his father and married his mother, and also the fact that, despite that the image of his father has recently appeared to him and told of how he died. Hamlet never was mad, but the murder of his father made him act insane and so he can get revenge.

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