"I will be brief. Your noble son is mad," states Polonius (II, ii, 91) . Ophelia exclaims, "O what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!" (III, i, 153). "Alas, he's mad," concludes Gertrude (III, iv, 106). Claudius even instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England because "it [is not] safe with us/To let his madness range" (III, iii, 1-2). Essentially, each supporting character questions Hamlet's sanity, and most conclude he is indeed mad.
General consensus can justify almost all actions in most societies. As for sanity, if authorities believe you are insane then you "are" insane; your personal commentary is often not heeded and is dismissed. Hamlet's environment proves no different. The possibility that Hamlet feigns madness for purpose never enters most characters' minds, and to Claudius (the King and figurehead against Hamlet), purpose is irrelevant. Hamlet poses a viable threat to Claudius' throne whether sane or insane, and Hamlet's supposed insanity provides justification for detrimental action. As long as evidence supports Hamlet's psychosis then Claudius can rid himself of Hamlet and rule Denmark as he pleases. Hamlet's actions and speech on numerous occasions can surely support pleas of his insanity.
Although Marcellus, Bernardo, and Horatio all witness King Hamlet's ghost, only Hamlet hears it speak. After this speech, Hamlet enrages, yelling vehement epithets about Claudius and Gertrude, pledging to avenge his father. However, later in the play Hamlet questions the validity of the apparition after assuming its sincerity initially. In the scene following the ghost's entrance, Hamlet's speech towards Horatio and guards is evasive as his mood swings ...
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...es the superiority and intelligence of Hamlet. Surfacely, Hamlet's supposed insanity paves the way for the plot of the tragedy. The madness also proves as a medium for comparison for other events, themes, and images in the play such as Ophelia's insanity and Laertes' real avenger role. Introspectively, Hamlet's supposed derangement allows him to question himself and supplies us with a more rounded picture of Hamlet's true character. In essence, only Shakespeare's ingenuity could weave so many psychotic acts and such elusive speech into a planned culmination.
Berman, Allison. "We Only Find Ourselves." Hamlet reaction papers. Wynnewood: FCS, 2000.
Lugo, Michael. "Thus Conscience Does Make Cowards of Us All." Hamlet reaction papers. Wynnewood: FCS, 2000.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1600? Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Signet Classic, 1998
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