Madness And Mental Insander In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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While insanity is a mental disorder, a mental disorder is not insanity. In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the prince exhibits eccentric behavior as he acts the part of madness. Despite his crazy disposition, Hamlet is not insane, but is burdened by a swirl of emotions and a couple of mental disorders. Shakespeare does not over dramatize Hamlet’s mental illness, but he does exaggerate Hamlet’s lunacy. Prince Hamlet’s state of mind is is hard to deduce, but it is clear that he is not insane after analyzing the reasons for his eccentric behavior and understanding his mental disorders.
One of Hamlet’s mental disorders arises with the death of the king. Prince Hamlet is deeply overcome with grief. It is natural for one to feel grief after the loss
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“Mental depression and anxiety were recognized as illness, although symptoms such as despair and lethargy were often identified by the church with the sin of Acedia or sloth.” (Kemp). If Hamlet were to outwardly express his depression, he would be seen as ill and even a sinner. Insanity on the other hand was perceived in a different light. “...insanity was a natural phenomenon , caused by mental or emotional stress, and was curable.” (Alexander & Sclesnick). By choosing to act insane, he is seen by others as a normal case of stress instead of as a sinner with an illness. Prince Hamlet’s idea to feign madness was brilliant in that he could easily hide his depression and could more freely progress toward avenging his father. Everyone would disregard him as mad and not give his eccentric actions a second thought. This facade worked as a coping strategy that provided a sanctuary inside his mind so that he could mourn and grieve without being identified by his…show more content…
“How strange or odd soe 'er I bear myself, As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on.” (Shakespeare Act I Scene 169-172). Here, Hamlet is telling Horatio and Marcellus that he is going to put on this mad behavior and that they are to swear not to tell anyone. Also, his insanity is only exhibited around certain characters. When Prince Hamlet is around King Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Laertes, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Polonius, he physically and mentally feigns madness, while he is his original self around those like Horatio, Marcellus, Francisco, or the Players. “They are coming to the play: I must be idle:” (Shakespeare Act III Scene II 79). The facts that he confessed his plan and that he can turn his act on or off are ample evidence that Hamlet is not really insane, but merely pretending. While his madness is an act, one must remember that his mental illnesses are

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