Hamlet’s Madness

1 January 2017

In relation to Shakespeare’s production of “Hamlet”, there has been a variety of opinions regard ing Hamlet’s madness throughout the play. Many believe that he was mad before his father’s death, and that he used his madness as an excuse to get away with actions that he performed as the play unveiled. Others believe that Hamlet’s madness was the onset of traumatic experiences that caused him to lose a sense of rationality. Sigmund Freud suggested that Hamlet’s psychopathic tendencies were brought on by traumatic experiences that affected him, and his family.

If one analyzes this suggestion, it is a valid idea because the amount of traumatic experiences that compiled in a short period of time were enough to affect someone’s sanity and pattern of thought. Within the first scenes in Act I of Hamlet, one learns about Hamlet’s father’s tragic death, his mother’s marriage to her brother in law, and Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost of his father. The actions that happen subsequently draw one into believing that Hamlet has lost his mind. However, has Hamlet lost his mind as a cause of these instances?

Hamlet’s Madness Essay Example

Or was he mentally incompetent before the death of his father? As the play continues it is easy to blame Hamlet for the tragedies that happen to him, and the people around him. Yet, although Hamlet is an active participant in his downfall, so are the additional characters in the play that procure his actions. Gardeazabal 2 Revenge is one of Hamlet’s drives which cause him to harm others around him. Following the death of his father, Hamlet discovers that his mother has moved on and married Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle.

This caused Hamlet to feel revenge towards his uncle, and mother since they felt no grief towards the death of an important person in their lives. One can draw from this that while experiencing the five steps of grief; Hamlet was stuck on the second step, which is anger. Hamlet’s admiration towards his father motivated him to pursue revenge, and justify harmful actions towards others. His sorrow motivated him to keep his father’s memory alive.

Instead of blaming Hamlet for the downfall of Denmark, one should look at the actions that Claudius, Gertrude, and other characters commit, which influence Hamlets subsequent decisions. Another pivotal character which causes Hamlet to lose his sanity is his father’s ghost. Not only is Hamlet the only person who is able to communicate with him, but he insists that Hamlet avenge his death. In reference to Claudius, and Gertrude, Hamlet was first preoccupied with making Claudius feel guilty about the death of his brother.

After demonstrating no feeling of grief, Hamlet responds to his mother, and Claudius: “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems. ” ‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forced breath ,No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Nor the dejected ‘havior of the visage, 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 (I, ii, 76-86).

Hamlet was trying to rationalize Gertrude, and Claudius’s actions, but their cold feelings plant anger in Hamlet, and transform his grief into impotence. Hamlet then feels like suicide is a way to escape the harsh Gardeazabal 3 world that he is living in. Yet, his fear of the unknown, and the memory of his father drive him to gain strength and seek vengeance for his father’s death. The most important character which causes Hamlet to lose all sense of reality is Hamlet’s father (the ghost).

Due to the fact that he is invisible, and only Hamlet can communicate with him, he takes advantage of this and causes his son to obsess about revenge, which leads Hamlet into believing that certain actions will justify his father’s death. The ghost is also a representation of “unresolved” business. When a person departs from earth there are certain things that he/she may have not completed. The ghost is also a representation of death; it foreshadows the deaths that would occur during the play. Hamlet becomes consumed by the ideas that his father relays to him through his apparitions.

He mentions to Hamlet: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. Murder most foul, as in the best it is. But this most foul, strange and unnatural (I, v, 25, 27 – 280. ” Through this quote, Hamlet is convinced that Claudius murdered his father, and became king of Denmark. This irritates Hamlet, and his mother’s marriage to his uncle only increases his hate towards Claudius. In Act I, scene V, one can observe how the ghost “brain washes” Hamlet into plotting instances that he could not complete while he was alive. The ghost treats Hamlet like his slave, and reels him into his ways.

The ghost says to Hamlet: I find thee apt, and duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed that roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear. ‘Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown (I, v, 31 – 40). ” Gardeazabal 4 Through this message, the ghost gives Hamlet a boost of confidence which empowers him to feel compelled to serve justice for his father.

The rest of Hamlet’s actions can be looked at as Hamlet’s body being acting out his father’s wishes. It is almost like Hamlet’s father’s soul implanted into Hamlet’s body. Although Hamlet committed murder, destroyed families, and lost his mother, was it really his fault? Or did the victims deserve what had happened to them? Did Hamlet have a right to justify murder with murder? These questions all lead to one conclusion; Hamlet was possessed by his father, and he lost his identity.

In the end, Hamlet can be admired for his courage to keep his father’s memory alive, yet he can also be blamed for the damage that he has done to Denmark, and the families inhabiting it. In reality, he is responsible for many deaths, but one may put him/herself into Hamlet’s shoes. As the son of a king his job was to keep his father’s memory alive. He was also responsible for ending the corruption that Claudius had bought upon in Denmark. However, does murder justify murder? Certainly, in Hamlets eyes pride and power overrule everything, and anyone.

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