Hamlet's Madness in William Shakespeare's Play

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Hamlet's Madness in William Shakespeare's Play

The Elizabethan play Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare's most

popular works written around the turn of the seventeenth century.

Hamlet is generally considered the foremost tragedy in English drama.

One of the possible reasons for this play's popularity is the way

Shakespeare uses the character Hamlet to exemplify the complex

workings of the human mind exploring ideas of insanity and madness.

The approach taken by Shakespeare in Hamlet has generated countless

different interpretations of meaning, but it is through Hamlet's

struggle to confront his internal dilemma, deciding when to revenge

his father's death, that the reader becomes aware that Shakespeare is

attempting to comment on the influence that one's state of mind can

have on one's actions.

Hamlet has always been seen as a volatile and ambivalent behaviour and

these characteristics have been the subject of much analysis. One

major issue is the question of the hero's sanity. Many parts of the

play support Hamlets loss of control in his actions, while other parts

uphold his ability of dramatic art. The issue can be discussed both

ways providing significant support to either theory. Most critics

maintain that Hamlet only pretends madness and then only at certain

times. They are supported by Hamlet's explicit avowal to Horatio after

he has seen the ghost of his father that he plans tofeign madness, and

that if Horatio notices any strange behavior from Hamlet, it is

because he is putting on an act.

"How strange or odd soe' er I bear myself-

As I, perchance, hereafter shall I think meet

To put an antic disposition on-"

... middle of paper ...

...tellectual capacity and unfocused "excess" of

thinking could be the source of his tragedy. Hamlet as we have seen is

an extremely philosophical and contemplative character. His ability to

undergo drastic changes of mentality is beyond that of a psychotic but

more of a character whose inner turmoil and downright melancholy, has

resulted in drastic actions. His public face is one of insanity but,

in his private moments of soliloquy, his inner conflicts and

introspective attitude are revealed to us. Alongside that, through his

confidences to Horatio, and in his careful plans of action, we see

that his madness is very much assumed. Instead as an audience we are

displayed the extent of pain and anguish that Hamlet feels and the

confusion that leads to some rash and impulsive actions made by this

intense character of Hamlet.