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Hamlet Essay, Research Paper

In this essay I will present sufficient information to prove that prince Hamlet was not mad, but mereley acting out a role, and that there was a method to his madness.

For centuries, people have been debating the issue on whether Hamlet – the prince of William Shakespeare s tragedy Hamlet – was mad. This question is not as easy as it sounds to answer; this is due to the fact that there are numerous arguments to support both sides of the issue.; there are indications within the play that there was actually a method in his madness, suggesting that he was not mad at all.

There are many occasions in which Hamlet s behavior was completely sane, and infact show there was a method to his madness. Near the beginning of the play, after Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, he even tells his only friend and confident, Horatio, that he is going to put an act of madness on. Hamlet: Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, / How strange or odd soe er I bear myself, / As I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put antic disposition on, (1076). Polonius recognizes that his madness seems to be some sort of act after speaking to Hamlet in Act II Polonius: Though this be madness, yet there is method in t./ How pregnant / sometimes his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, / which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of (1085).

More evidence that shows Hamlet was not mad was when Hamlet finds out that his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are spying on him for the king and queen. In this passage he tells them: You are welcome: but my uncle-father / and aunt-mother are decieved (1088). Here he is hinting to them that he is deceiving the king and queen into believing that he is mad. He then admits to them that his madness is just an act: I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly / I know a hawk from a handsaw (1088). However, Claudius is not so easily deceived. When Polonius and Claudius spy on Hamlet when he is talking to Ophelia, Claudius admits that Hamlet s words, although strange do not stem from madness: Love! his affections do not that way tend; Nor what he spake, though it lack d form a little, was not like madness (1098).

Another instance where Hamlet admits his sanity is when he is speaking with his mother in Act 3 Scene 4. After Hamlet sees the ghost, the queen proclaims that he must be mad, because she could not see the ghost. But after the ghost leaves, Hamlet confesses to his mother that he is indeed sane, but he convinces her to tell Claudius otherwise. Hamlet: My pulse, as yours, does temperately keep time, / And makes as healthful music: it is not madness / That I have utter d: bring me to the test, / And I the matter will re-word, which madness / Would gambol from (1115). That I essentially am not in madness, / But mad in craft (1116).

Each of the incidents mentioned before are good evidence of Hamlet s sanity. On several occasions, he himself admitted that his madness was only a mask. Polonius and Claudius even recognized that there seemed to be method in his actions. Notice, when you read this play, that Hamlet s behavior changes abruptly when he is around different characters as well. He appears only to act insane around characters like Claudius, Polonius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Laertes. When by himself, Hamlet appeared very depressed and angry, but in no sense mad. His behavior was also quite normal when he was around characters such as Horatio, Bernardo, Francisco, the actors, and the grave-diggers. All of this evidence suggests that Hamlet was not mad.

After all, his behavior through a good part of the play is very erratic and violent, and generally the actions of a mad-man. I found after digging deeper into Hamlet s psyche, that he was perfectly sane and very intelligent. This is evident on several occasions where Hamlet admits to others that his madness was just a fascaute. More evidence that he was sane, was the fact that Polonius and Claudius both noticed that there was more to Hamlet s words and action than meet the eye. Sure, Hamlet s actions throughout the play make him seem mad, but in reality, this madness was just a tactic of his in his plan to get revenge for his father s wrongful death.

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