Sanity: Boundaries of the Mind

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Sanity: Boundaries of the Mind
The mind is a beautiful thing. The boundaries that someone can extend their rationality is different in each and every person. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the balance of sanity and madness is tested. Hamlet’s way of thinking is changed, but in a way that his personality is only a front. By looking at the different events that Hamlet overcame, we can observe the passion for acting that many readers do not come across; knowing the importance of acting is imperative when questioning Hamlet’s sanity, since he is only acting insane, and is rational and in control of himself throughout the play.
For those who do not recall the story of Hamlet, this play is one of revenge, scandal, and lies. Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is living a life that one would not want to live. His father, the King, was murdered by his brother, who is now married to Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet beings his brilliant acting and conniving when he learns that he must avenge his father’s murder. Not only does
Hamlet fool his family when acting insane, but the genius of his work has fooled critics all along.
As the play begins, the ever popular question “Who’s there?” “Betrays the insecurity of Hamlet’s world” (Salkeld and Shakespeare). Starting the play with a question was pure genius on Shakespeare’s part; the symbolism of the questionable state of Denmark which is “in a state of shock and confusion,” along with the people in it, leads the readers right into the questionably unstable life of Hamlet (Salkeld, Strachey). In act I, scene V of the play, the audience learns of the “antic disposition” that Hamlet will be putting on
(Shakespeare). In this scene, he tells the audience that he plans to act insane in order to get away with killing Claudius. He believes that by acting insane no one will suspect him of doing anything such as that. To many critics the “whole conduct of Hamlet’s madness is too ludicrous” and in fact he has really gone mad
( Stubbers). For Hamlet to come out and say that he is planning to act insane is, on the other hand, “purely and adequately a man of genius” (Strachey).
Hamlet’s ability to imitate someone who is insane is astonishing. His ability to do so is what has confused readers and critics. Not only can his sanity be seen, but throughout different scene...

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...g into the performance to fool all. Being able to fool even his mother is what gave Hamlet the ability to complete his plans of murdering Claudius. Hamlet eventually avenged his father’s death and accomplished that by keeping his thoughts and emotions in order. The mind is a beautiful thing, which wasn’t wasted.

Works Cited
“Overview of Hamlet.” Gale 2003 Gale Research. Student Resource Center. Blinn
College Library, Bryan TX. 28 Nov. 2004
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Salkeld, Duncan. “Madness in Shakespearean Tragedy.” Shakespearean Criticism vol.35. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Roberts, Edgar V., Henry E. Jacobs, Eds.
Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Seventh Edition, Upper
River, Pearson, 2004. 1306-1406.
Strachey, Edward. “Essay on Madness (Hamlet).” Gale 2003. Gale Research. Student
Resouce Center. BlinnCollege Library, Bryan, TX 28 Nov. 2004 < >.
Stubbers, George/ Thomas Hanmer. “Critical Heritage.” Shakespearean Criticism vol. 1. 1975. vol. 71
Zeffirelli, Franco, Dir. Hamlet. Perf. Mel Gibson, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan
Bates, and Glenn Close, Warner Bros, 1991.
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