Hamlet’s Madness Essay

Hamlet is a drama written by Shakespeare in early 1600s. Hamlet was the Prince of Denmark. Hamlet, Hamlet’s father died leaving his mother Gertrude to marry Claudius who then became the new King of Denmark and Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet’s father, the previous king had no brothers so therefore this made Hamlet the rightful heir, Hamlet’s uncle and Hamlet’s mother did not ask Hamlet if he agreed with this and so Hamlet considered his father to still be alive.

Hamlet was close friends with a man named Horatio and many other men at the college including Marcellus and Bernardo, who were guards that saw an apparition of Hamlet’s fathers ghost one night. Hamlet was also close to Ophelia, Hamlet’s love interest.

Hamlet’s father told Hamlet that he was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle and Hamlet saw his fathers ghost again after the college guards let Hamlet know about another apparition of a figure matching the description of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet tells Horatio what happened to Hamlet’s father and Hamlet is sent to England by the King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet returns because he hears that the king marries Hamlet’s mother (the queen) behind Hamlet’s back.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of his most popular plays, and is certainly among the most commonly performed plays in the world . It has been adapted countless times for multiple mediums, including stage productions , film , opera , television shows , musicals , and others. Hamlet has been adapted so much because it is a very relatable story about the struggles of a young man who is pushed over the edge by his father’s death, betrayal, and displeasure with how Hamlet acts in response to those events .

Hamlet was written as a tragedy, but audiences have been fascinated with Hamlet since it’s first performance. Hamlet is an incredibly insane character, and there are many theories about his insanity . The term ” Hamlet Syndrome” has even been coined to refer to people who are driven mad by the same things Hamlet was , suicide being chief among them . With so much madness surrounding Hamlet, it is easy to see why audiences are drawn to Hamlet Madness.

Hamlet Madness is the phenomenon in Hamlet fandom where Hamlet has been interpreted as being insane . Hamlets fans have believed since the first performance of Hamlet that Hamlet was mad, but Hamlet Madness did not reach peak popularity at any point until after James Joyce ‘s “The Sisters” was published. “The Sisters” is the seventh episode in Joyce’s collection of short stories titled Dubliners. 1 Hamlet Madness has been prevalent until recently, but because literary criticism has changed so much over the last century, Hamlet Madness is dwindling.

Hamlet has been the most popular Shakespeare play, as well as the most controversial Hamlet since its creation. Hamlet is a complex character to understand and his feelings often cause confusion in those who watch, read, or perform it. When Hamlet’s insanity is questioned there are many answers: betrayal, love, murder and revenge. Hamlet is not insane, he is simply reacting to all that has been done. Hamlet’s madness manifests itself as a result of the feelings he feels after being betrayed by his mother and uncle, who have murdered Hamlet’s father and married one another so quickly after Hamlet Senior’s death.

Hamlet is not mad with the sight of blood or revenge on his mind; it is a quest for answers, which leads him to lunatic acts such as those performed in the play within a play. Hamlet must kill Claudius because Claudius has got away with murdering Hamlet Senior. In order to do this Hamlet must look mad enough for people to think he will fail at killing Claudius but strong enough for them not to believe him mad. Hamlet knows that if he fails Claudius will have Hamlet killed, so Hamlet has to think on his feet.

Hamlet’s sanity is questioned in Act 2 Scene 2 where Hamlet speaks with Gertrude about the death of his father and how it affected Hamlet; “I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in” (Act 2 Scene 2) Hamlet needs people to believe he is mad for various reasons even if it means acting like a lunatic; Hamlet must look insane enough for people not to believe him capable of killing Claudius but strong enough for people not to kill Hamlet before Hamlet can do what he needs to do.

Hamlet pretends to have fits, seeing the ghost of his father and other acts which make Hamlet appear mad but also purposeful in a way. Hamlet knows that Horatio will believe him and look after Hamlet as Hamlet moves towards the objective of killing Claudius even if Hamlet has to pretend to be mad enough for everyone else not to believe Hamlet capable. In Act 2 Scene 1, Hamlet says “I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw” this shows that Hemlock knows exactly what he is doing and how it affects those around him rather than being delusional or insane.

Hamlet is not mad, Hamlet is simply reacting to everything that has happened. Hamlet knows he has to play the part of a lunatic in order to achieve his objective and until Hamlet can do this then Hamlet must look like he is too weak or too strong which would lead to certain death for Hamlet. The madness that Hamlets portrays is also discussed by Bradley who says “There are points at which Hamlet’s madness seems positively reasonable compared with the conduct of those about him” (Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy).

This shows that Hamlet’s actions are reasonable compared to those around him because they make sense rather than appearing completely insane like Hamlet’s enemies think he is. An example of how Hamlet uses Hamlet’s madness to his advantage is seen in Act 3 Scene 1 where Hamlet is on the battlements with Horatio and Marcellus. When Hamlet sees his father’s ghost he plays along, not wanting to lose this opportunity to see his dead father again.

Hamlet pretends that what he is seeing isn’t real; “I’ll hear it once again” (Act 3 Scene 1). Hamlet’s act of pretending his father is talking to him when no-one else can here shows how Hamlet knows exactly what he needs to do in order to achieve his objective now that Hamlet has another chance with Claudius. Hamlet’s performance makes everyone believe he is mad rather than reacting like an intelligent human being who Hamlet truly is.

Hamlet knows that if he does not appear to be mad then Hamlet will be killed and Hamlet’s objective won’t be reached; “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, Could force his soul so to his own conceit That from her working all the visage wann’d, Tears in his eyes, distraction in’s aspect, A broken voice and his whole function suiting With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing! For Hecuba! ” (Act 3 Scene 2).

Hamlet gets such powerful lines because Hamlet completely understands how much power Hamlet’s performance as the lunatic has; Hamlet needs to portray Hamlet’s madness for everyone else’s sake because Hamlet knows exactly what he is doing rather than being delusional. Hamlet’s performance is so powerful that the actor playing Hamlet gets a chance to go out and mingle with the audience between scenes instead of waiting in his dressing room until it is time to perform again. This shows how Hamlet’s performance has an effect on everyone, no matter how much Hamlet pretends he doesn’t care about what other people think.

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