Two Types of Madness in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the principal character, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, uses a charade of madness in order to further his plot of revenge. However, his mind is not able to justify murder for any reason; therefore, he truly goes insane before he is able to fulfill his scheme. In contrast, Ophelia is openly mad and is used by Shakespeare to show the various forms of insanity. According to Carney Landis and James D. Page, there are "three levels of social adjustment:" there is the "normal individual," the "neurotic," and the "psychotic"(Landis and Page 9). The normal individual is just what the title says. He is accepted into society as a logical and stable person. Most people are classified as normal. The second level is the neurotic. These people have "desires, emotions, and interests" that are not accepted by their society (Landis and Page 9). Some symptoms of the neurotic person include "undue worry, chronic fatigue, absurd fears, obsessions, and compulsions" (Landis and Page 9-10). Despite all of this, these people are generally able to maintain a life within the demands of society. He is able to recognize his problems even though he cannot fix them. The third level is psychotic, completely maladjusted to society. These people's actions are uncontrollable by either themselves or others. "His behavior is...looked upon as irrational and incomprehensible by his associates" (Landis and Page 10). People with this mental disorder are usually hospitalized. There are many differing varieties of neurosis and psychosis, all are characterized by a lack of judgment, childish or incomprehensible behavior. Bernard Hart identifies the presence of complexes within the human psyche. He says that, "Complexes[...]a... ... middle of paper ... ...im. With the appearance of the ghost and the relating of his murder, Hamlet begins his downward spiral towards his ultimate downfall. He develops a revenge complex in which his desire for revenge conflicts with his personality. This complex steadily evolves as the play progresses, creating intense discord within Hamlet himself. Ultimately Hamlet is forced to take action, which then leads to the downfall of almost everyone involved. Through this elaborate evaluation of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, it is easy to see that Hamlet was mad both in craft and in reality. Works Cited Hart, Bernard. The Psychology of Insanity. London: Cambridge, 1914. Landis, Carney, and James D. Page. Modern Soceity and Mental Disease. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1938. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Norton Critical ed. Ed. Cyrus Hoy. New York: Norton, 1992.
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