In William Shakespeare 's play Hamlet, there are only two characters that display certain qualities of insanity. These characters are Ophelia and Hamlet. Ophelia begins to lose her sanity when her father dies, which leads to her suicide. Her madness appears to be clear-cut and is never really questioned. Hamlet 's sanity on the other hand is not definite. The nature of the mind makes the definitions of sanity fluid and dynamic as shown by how the characters view one another in Hamlet. These views show how there is no precise definition for sanity as shown around the world. Hamlet has plenty of reasons to lead us to believe that he is truly insane. The emotional strain that Hamlet has to undergo can make any human being go insane, but Hamlet is always able to outsmart everyone in the room. Although there are many times throughout the play that Hamlet seems crazy, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that he is only pretending to be mad. He is only pretending to be mad in order for him to reach his ultimate goal, which is to kill Claudius. The unanswered question of whether or not Hamlet is truly mad or is he just pretending to be mad is still being debated today by many of Hamlet 's audience.
Hamlet only acts insane in front of certain characters. Hamlet 's true and only motive to act mad is obvious as shown throughout the play. Hamlet has clearly stated during the beginning of the play that he is going to act mad. Once he began to act mad, it was very easy for characters in the play to call him mad. He lived his life trying to carry out his plan, which is to kill Claudius. Pretending to be mad was part of his plot to reach his ultimate goal. Hamlet is contemplating his plan after he sees the Ghost: Hamlet says, "How strange...
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... define sanity in different ways. Everybody has opinions, but those opinions change and are different. Sanity has a variety of definitions, and Hamlet has shown that one concrete reason or definition does not specifically state that someone is insane.
Bradley, A.C. "What actually Happens in the Play." Hamlet: An Authoritative Text, Intellectual Backgrounds, Extracts from the sources, Essays in Criticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Cyrus Hoy. New York: Norton, 1992. 169-175. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Simon and Schuster paperbacks, 2012. Print.
Showalter, Elaine. "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism." Hamlet: Text of the play, The Actors ' Gallery, Contexts, Criticism, Afterlives, Resources. Ed. Robert S. Miola. New York: Norton, 2011. 281-298. Print.
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