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Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Madness in Hamlet

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Madness in Hamlet

Hamlet's choice to put on an "antic disposition" leads to his downfall; it is a tragic error in judgement (hamartia) which destroys his relationship with Ophelia and Gertrude. It is Hamlet's hubris. Another result from Hamlet's peculiar actions, is that in his own mind he begins to believe that he is mad. It is unfortunate that Hamlet's plan did not succeed; not only did it lead to his own downfall but he had to witness the downfall of all of the people he loved.

With his choice to put on this act of antic disposition, he takes the risk of losing close touch with his loved ones. With his actions of insanity, he drives Ophelia away from him and this eventually leads to her suicide. Ophelia is greatly saddened when Hamlet continues to push her further and further away. Hamlet commands her to go to a nunnery and this is the point where she believes he is mad.

O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! ( III; i; 147)

When Hamlet's act continues to unfold, Ophelia begins to feel very betrayed by his love. With only her feelings of rejected love and betrayal left she takes her own life.

Young men will do't if they come to't.

By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me,

You promised me to wed.' ( IV; v; 60-64)

It is after the death of Ophelia that Hamlet realizes his true feelings for her. This is another contributing factor that leads to Hamlet's own downfall.

This tragic error in judgement leads Hamlet to destroy his relationship with his mother, Gertrude. By faking this madness he makes himself a less be...

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...t Ophelia he felt as if he had lost much more. His saddness is covered by his jealousy and this leads to further maddness. Hamlet is on a path of destruction with no return.

All these events have built up and contributed to Hamlet's downfall. He lost the love of his life, his dear mother and has lost his own mind. Hamlet's choice to put on this antic disposition was a tragic error in judgement (harmartia). It was Hamlet's hubris.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations Of Hamlet. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Charney, Maurice. All of Shakespeare. New York, NY. Columbia University Press. 1993.

Magill, Frank N. Masterplots. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1995.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Riverside Shakespeare. ED. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Haughton Mifflin Company, 1974.
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