Shakespeare's Hamlet Was Certainly Sane

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In Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet, the character of Hamlet feigns insanity. For a person in his situation, having one's peers think of one as crazy can be quite beneficial. His father, the king, had just died, and he is visited by a ghost who appears to be his father's spirit. The ghost tells Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother Claudius, who is now the current king and who recently married the former king's wife. Hamlet vows revenge and, as a tool to aid him in that plan, convinces people that he is crazy. The fact that he is acting, as opposed to actually being insane, can be seen in Hamlet's conversations with a watchman, two childhood friends, and his mother. Also, there are many actions in the play that he would not have been able to carry out had he not had the veil of insanity, adding motive for Hamlet to feign insanity.

More important than the clues that one may find proving Hamlet's sanity is the motive behind Hamlet's simulated madness. The first reason Hamlet would have to make people think that he is crazy is the freedom it grants him. As in any society, the world in which Hamlet lives has social norms and taboos. However, if one is insane, then one is not expected or required to abide by those standards. Therefore, if the people in Hamlet's life are convinced that he is insane, then he is no longer bound by the social restraints of society.

The best example of Hamlet using his "madness" to do things otherwise inaccessible to him can be found right before Hamlet's players put on "The Murder of Gonzago." The scene involves Hamlet speaking to Ophelia in the theater, saying, among other things, "that's a fair thought to lie between a maid's legs." 1 If the scene is played so that Hamlet's lines to O...

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