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Hamlet Essay

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One of the primary inquiries that arises from Shakespeare’s famous work,Hamlet, is whether the protagonist is truly insane or whether he is just pretending to be so. Unlike some of Shakespeare’s other work such as Macbeth where the “discerning eye” can determine whether the character is actually insane or not and where the madness was born, Shakespeare leaves Hamlet’s madness up to interpretation. In the play, Hamlet’s madness can be viewed as rational or viewed as completely crazy. Hamlet’s madness is shown through his rash decisions, mood swings, and his “nutty as a fruitcake” speeches. The method behind his madness can be reasoned through the fact that in his madness he is protected by the king, he makes fools of king and everyone around him, and he gets plenty of time to plot his revenge against Claudius for the murder of his father.
The first of Hamlet’s brilliant “feigned” madness moments is in act 2 scene 2 where Polonius is trying to discern the reason behind Hamlet’s melancholy attitude. The words uttered by Hamlet upon Polonius’ arrival on the scene seem to be said only through madness, “You are a fishmonger” (Shakespeare, line 171). Hamlet is clearly taunting the self-important Polonius with the incorrect identification, under the cover of his feigned madness. Polonius believes Hamlet to be truly mad when in actuality Hamlet is fooling Polonius into thinking he is mad. In the same scene, Hamlet’s second soliloquy displays a seed of rational thinking. Hamlet plots a way to catch “the conscience of the King” (line 531). He plans to put on a play so that “the guilty creatures” will be “struck so to the soul” that they will “proclaim their malefactions” (line 516-518). A truly insane person would not have enough cognitive...

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...r is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table.”(line 19-24). If this reply came from anyone else, they would suffer immediate consequences, but it is from Hamlet whom he can’t touch. By the King’s position and desire for the favor of his people, Claudius is unable to harm Hamlet through most of the play in turn giving Hamlet protection from the King.
Hamlet has all the means to be completely insane such as: the death of his father, the crowning of his uncle, the marriage of his mother to his uncle, his murder of an innocent man, and Ophelia’s forbidden relationship with him and eventually her death. But was he really insane or was Polonius right in saying “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t” (line 201-202). Hamlet has both rational and irrational aspect making him an inconsistent character therefore, leaving his madness up to interpretation.
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