William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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One of the main arguments surrounding the famous play, Hamlet, written by Shakespeare, is focused on whether the main character Hamlet was actually insane, or just pretending to be. Shakespeare does not directly state Hamlet’s madness but rather he hints at it throughout the play and this lets the reader decide on their own interpretation. Hamlet’s insanity can be seen in his reckless decisions, extreme mood swings, and daring manner in which he speaks to the king. However it can be judged reasonable because being mad temporarily satisfies his conscience, gives him some protection from Claudius, and it buys some time for Hamlet to prove Claudius’s guilt. In the play as a whole, Hamlet’s choice to be mad characterizes him as intelligent and reveals the inner turmoil surrounding his mission to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet is labeled as a cunning and sneaky genius when he chooses to act insane and put on several performances acting like it. As Claudius asks for Polonius’ body from Hamlet, Hamlet states, “Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service—two dishes but to one table. That’s the end” (4,3,22). In a weird response to say the least, no one sane would ever dare say this to a king for fear of reprove. Hamlet, on the other hand, acts insane to somewhat protect himself from the kings harm and quietly threaten him at the same time. This cunning way for threatening Claudius reveals Hamlet’s rather high intelligence and scheming ways. While speaking to Ophelia, Hamlet demands, “You jig, you amble, and you lisp; you nickname God’s creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no more on’... ... middle of paper ... ...rectly after he decides not to stab Claudius at prayer because he wants to ensure that Claudius’ soul is “…as damned and black as hell, whereto it goes…” He does not want Claudius to be sent to heaven but rather to hell. This hasty decision can be seen as madness, but it also reveals the inner confusion within Hamlet because when he is finally bold enough to act, he acts too quickly and kills the wrong person, which shows how desperately he wants to prove himself a brave and noble son to his late father, and not “pigeon-livered.” Real or not, Hamlet’s acts of madness proved to be a vital role in the play. It was both rational and irrational at times, which made his character inconsistent and open to multiple interpretations, but for the most part it was judged reasonable. Because of this madness, Hamlet is characterized as a crafty genius and extremely intelligent.

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