The Importance Of Insanity In Hamlet

816 Words4 Pages
Throughout the novel, William Shakespeare takes his readers through many twists and turns and several of the characters exhibit odd or unnatural behavior, most noticeably Hamlet. However, it leaves readers questioning whether Hamlet’s “antic disposition” is genuine or if it is fabricated. Many may argue that Hamlet is truly mad since it eventually results in his downfall, but there are several reasons suggesting that Hamlet’s madness is feigned. While he appears to be a lunatic on the outside, Hamlet is sane, as seen through his ability to investigate his father’s murder, gain new information, plot against other characters in the novel, and discover the truth. From the beginning of the novel, Hamlet puts others under the impression that sadness has overcome his personality. He laments over his father’s death and his mother’s marriage to an uncle he dislikes. We see that Hamlet is quite sane because it proves that he has emotion and is simply grieving the death of his father. Later on, the ghost of King Hamlet visits Hamlet and tells him to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” This is the first sign that could suggest to some readers that Hamlet has gone insane because the average person should not be seeing and communicating with ghosts. However, after his confrontation with the ghost, Hamlet questions whether the ghost of his dead father is a good or evil spirit. He states, “May be the devil, and the devil hath power T’ assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps out of my weakness and my melancholy, as he is very potent with such spirits, abuses me to damn me” (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 561-564). This suggests that Hamlet still has his sanity because he can differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. A... ... middle of paper ... ...his once beloved friends, proving how Hamlet is able to use his fake madness to distinguish his true allies from his enemies. By feigning insanity, Hamlet has the ability to safely investigate and avenge his father’s murder. Hamlet is aware that masking his actions behind his so called madness will prevent him from facing the consequences. There are several instances throughout the novel where Hamlet’s temporary bouts of instability portray him as a madman, but we are all human and eventually our emotions will get the best of us. Clearly, Hamlet is not insane. Insanity would mean that he has lost touch with reality, when all along he realizes what he’s doing and the consequences of his actions. Overall, feigning madness allows Hamlet to vent out his feelings without being severely judged by others, challenge the authority of King Claudius, and adapt new ideas.
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