Insanity and Procrastination: An Analysis of Hamlet’s Inaction and Mental Degeneration

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Vengeance, redemption, and desire plague Denmark’s royal family in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet after a haunting family secret forces Prince Hamlet to choose between morality and honor. After Hamlet’s father dies, the kingdom hastily adjusts to his uncle Claudius’ reign; however, Hamlet remains devastated and loyal to his father. When his father’s ghost unveils that Claudius poisoned King Hamlet, the prince’s devastation mixes with a fervent desire for revenge that eventually dictates his every thought. Despite being ostensibly committed to avenging his father’s death, Hamlet habitually discovers reasons to delay action. As Hamlet’s procrastination persists, his familial relations deteriorate and ultimately cause him to reevaluate his position in society. Furthermore, Hamlet becomes chronically paranoid and calculates each aspect of his plan; therefore, the audience doubts his ability to successfully exact revenge. This paranoia escalates exponentially and fuels an uncontrollable obsession with perfection that usurps his sanity. Although Hamlet remains devoted to his murdered father, his perpetual procrastination eventually leads to mental degeneration through decaying relationships, prompting incessant paranoia, and fostering uncontrollable obsessions. At the play’s commencement, Hamlet’s familial relations are relatively impaired, for his mother’s remarriage to his uncle instills great distrust within the family; however, as Hamlet attempts to expose the family’s darkest secret, these relationships deteriorate further until they eventually collapse. After conversing with his father’s ghost, Hamlet feels it necessary to confirm Claudius’ guilt; therefore, he asks a group of actors to perform a scene that wittily mirrors King Ha... ... middle of paper ... ...d gives the ghost unparalleled authority. Although Hamlet commences his mission with clear perspective and drive, he quickly disconnects from society and attaches to his father’s tragic death, which inhibits him from successfully exacting revenge and eventually drives him mad. As Hamlet transforms from a motivated intellectual to an obsessed griever, Shakespeare evaluates the fluidity of sanity.The juxtaposition of Hamlet’s desire to act and inability to do so unveils Hamlet’s inner turmoil, for as Hamlet disconnects from family, distrusts his environment, and forms an obsession with perfection, the audience realizes his fatal flaw and watches him tumble into the grasps of insanity. This degeneration forces the audience to consider how equilibrium between thought and action influences the conservation of sanity, not only for Hamlet, but also for all of humanity.

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