Madness in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Madness in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Madness was considered a seriously bad thing in the 17th century, but

the meaning for madness now compared to then has changed dramatically.

Hamlet in the 17th century plays may have seem mad by Shakespeare's

audience then but not now in the 21st century. In the 21st century a

madman means an insane person, which is quite an offensive word. But

in the 17th century a madman was just a person acting a bit out of


Hamlet's behaviour throughout the play changes from a high to a low

quite a lot. Although we do never find out if hamlet is sane or not,

his first line I find is a little bit confusing, "a little more than

kin, and less than kind" I don't really know what it means and sounds

like a sign of madness. As we progress through the play then hamlet is

slowly and slowly becoming more and more mad, unlike Ophelia's

madness, which is very sudden and is spurred by a certain event, the

death of her father. The play begins with guards, whose main

significance in the play is to give credibility to the ghost. If

Hamlet were to see his father's ghost in private, the argument for his

madness would greatly improve. Yet, not one, but three men together

witness the ghost before even thinking to notify Hamlet.

There are many events that may have impelled hamlet to go mad. The

first one being the loss of his father, there is however no proof for

this as it happened ahead of the play so that we do not know if he was

already mad. The second main event that may have caused hamlet to go

mad is seeing the ghost of his father this is one of the most obvious

one as this may make anyone go mad. But he seemed sane enough to

understand that the ghost was saying that his uncle killed his father

so this is a very doubtful answer to his madness.

Another event that could have turned hamlet mad was the marriage of

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