Essay on Insanity Is Not Insane By William Shakespeare

Essay on Insanity Is Not Insane By William Shakespeare

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While insanity is a mental disorder, a mental disorder is not insanity. In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the prince exhibits eccentric behavior as he acts the part of madness. Despite his crazy disposition, Hamlet is not insane, but is burdened by a swirl of emotions and a couple of mental disorders. Shakespeare does not over dramatize Hamlet’s mental illness, but he does exaggerate Hamlet’s lunacy. Prince Hamlet’s state of mind is is hard to deduce, but it is clear that he is not insane after analyzing the reasons for his eccentric behavior and understanding his mental disorders.
One of Hamlet’s mental disorders arises with the death of the king. Prince Hamlet is deeply overcome with grief. It is natural for one to feel grief after the loss of a loved one, but Hamlet has fallen into a deeper level, called a complicated grief disorder. When his mother asks him to cast off his melancholy, he responds, “Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly: these indeed seem, For they are actions that a man might play: But I have that within which passeth show; These but the trappings and the suits of woe.” (Shakespeare Act I, Scene II 82-86). Hamlet explains that his appearance of grief does seem eccentric, as if from a play, but it is only the outside signs of his mourning. Inside, his grief is something that cannot simply be acted or displayed. Such intense remorse can lead to a depression disorder, which is Prince Hamlet’s second disorder.
While grief and depression have some overlapping symptoms like deep sadness, they are two distinct conditions. In a Transmedial Shakespeare blog article, two symptom of a major depressive disorder are “sad mood” and “recurrent thoughts of death or suicide”. Having covered a...


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...ave been too dramatic; maybe, but it is needed to solidify Hamlet’s portrayal of insanity. Of course there is a point where it can go too far, and the prince may actually become mad, but Shakespeare skillfully toes the line, keeping Hamlet in control yet still eccentric.
The line between sanity and insanity is hard to perceive, but it is helpful to remember that insanity is a mental illness, yet having a mental illness is not insanity. In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the prince’s mental state can be speculated by understanding his mental disorders and analyzing his intentions for the facade. The talented playwright is intentionally accurate in the depiction of Hamlet’s disorders and is purposefully over dramatic in illustrating Hamlet’s eccentric behavior. When everything falls into place, it is clear to see that Prince Hamlet was not a madman, but was a tragic hero.

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