Madness in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Madness in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Madness in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Madness was considered a seriously bad thing in the 17th century, but
the meaning for madness now compared to then has changed dramatically.
Hamlet in the 17th century plays may have seem mad by Shakespeare's
audience then but not now in the 21st century. In the 21st century a
madman means an insane person, which is quite an offensive word. But
in the 17th century a madman was just a person acting a bit out of
character.

Hamlet's behaviour throughout the play changes from a high to a low
quite a lot. Although we do never find out if hamlet is sane or not,
his first line I find is a little bit confusing, "a little more than
kin, and less than kind" I don't really know what it means and sounds
like a sign of madness. As we progress through the play then hamlet is
slowly and slowly becoming more and more mad, unlike Ophelia's
madness, which is very sudden and is spurred by a certain event, the
death of her father. The play begins with guards, whose main
significance in the play is to give credibility to the ghost. If
Hamlet were to see his father's ghost in private, the argument for his
madness would greatly improve. Yet, not one, but three men together
witness the ghost before even thinking to notify Hamlet.

There are many events that may have impelled hamlet to go mad. The
first one being the loss of his father, there is however no proof for
this as it happened ahead of the play so that we do not know if he was
already mad. The second main event that may have caused hamlet to go
mad is seeing the ghost of his father this is one of the most obvious
one as this may make anyone go mad. But he seemed sane enough to
understand that the ghost was saying that his uncle killed his father
so this is a very doubtful answer to his madness.

Another event that could have turned hamlet mad was the marriage of

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his mother and his uncle, this infuriated hamlet inside but he never
released his anger. This in real life can cause schizophrenia, which
means a split personality and is also a type of madness. I think that
is the most promising answer to his madness because through the play
he does not always seem mad and his madness comes on and off, this is
also the case with schizophrenia.

Some of the soliloquies can also give us a rough idea of whether
hamlet is mad. If we look at one of the most famous of his soliloquies
then this also shows a sign that he could be mad. It says "To be or
not to be that is the question" This mean's to live or not to live. So
he is contemplating suicide. This is a sign of madness as he's
considering taking his own life. The next thing it says is "Whether
tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. And by opposing
end to them? To die; to sleep: no more and by a sleep we end, the
heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks." This is saying is it
better to live or to die, and he is revising the points for and points
against committing suicide. He is also saying in this soliloquy would
it be better to die and have dreams or to suffer the horrors that life
brings us. And that if he dies will he have happy dreams. In this part
he is obviously not thinking straight.
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