Is Hamlet Insane? The topic of whether Hamlet is insane or not insane has become a very controversial dispute. Some say he Hamlet actually started to progressively become insane as the play went on (thoughts of suicide, etc.) and some say that he just put on an act to gain an opportunity to avenge his father’s death., who was murdered my Claudius, his brother. I believe that Hamlet was completely aware of the words he spoke and the actions he made and acted in a way that could be considered “insane” for vengeance.
Hamlet makes his first move against King Claudius by telling the actors to play a tragic play by which he can see King Claudius’s reaction. “Oh, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven. It has the eldest primal curse on it—a brother’s murder.” (Act 3, Scene 3, Lines 36-38). Claudius says these lines in despite of the play he has seen and drives him crazy. This is when we know he actually killed Hamlet’s father.
After Claudius had realized that Hamlet knows he committed the murder of his father, he decides to send Hamlet to England to his death, and orders Guildenstern and Rosencrantz to follow Hamlet, and he uses the method of deception by lying to the two courtiers by telling them that he is sending Hamlet away due to his madness and weird behaviour, but Claudius is really afraid for others to find the truth behind King Hamlet’s death. As stated in the following quote “I like not him, nor stands it safe with us to let his madness range. Therefore prepare you. I your commission will forthwith dispatch, and he to England shall along with you.” (3.3.1-4). this quote indicates the dishonesty that Claudius is showing to the two
Finally Hamlet had the perfect opportunity to get his revenge and yet again his indecisiveness is getting the best of him. Hamlet was procrastinating with his revenge of his father’s death because he was too indecisive on when and how he was going to do it also whether or not the ghost was right. He was over thinking everything and worrying if it was his father’s ghost or not. Hamlet was questioned, “Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, / Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, / Be thy intents wicked or charitable, / Thou com’st in such a questionable shape” (1.4. 40-43).
Shakespeare’s overall tone in the play Hamlet epitomizes the long disputed question; is Hamlet’s outcome determined by fate or his own free will? Hamlet is forced to make a life-altering decision when his father’s ghost asks him to kill his uncle Claudius. Hamlet is faced with two options. His first is to kill Claudius, which is treason and face life in prison or even death. The other option would be to not avenge his father and suffer the consequences in purgatory, Hamlet states, “Till the foul crimes done in my days of the nature/ Are burnt and purged away”.
Laertes’ father- Polonius is mistakenly killed by Hamlet. Therefore, at this point, Laertes has a similar situation as Hamlet. Laertes resolves to avenge his father’s death on Hamlet as Hamlet decides to avenge his father’s death on Claudius. However, the way they each avenge for their fathers’ death is opposite to one another. While Hamlet is self-conflicting with plans, Laertes is taking action immediately after he knows of his father’s murder.
Act 1 Scene 5 opens with the ghost exposing to Hamlet, the protagonist that he is his father and asks him to avenge his “most foul, strange and unnatural murder”. He reveals to Hamlet that Claudius, his brother seduced his queen, an act of incest to him and then killed him by pouring the poison “Habenon” in his ear, while he lay sleeping in his orchard. The orchard, which is a microcosm of the Garden of Eden, is symbolic of the story of Adam and Eve, where, the malicious snake, (Claudius) manages to influence Eve, (Gertrude) and “kills” Adam (Old Hamlet), which builds up tension in the atmosphere. In this Scene, Shakespeare uses literary devices to build up tension. Themes such as appearance in reality, death, corruption, religion and power etc.
Hamlet's moral struggle for revenge becomes an obsession causing a change in his character. Hamlet goes so far as to feigned madness in order to achieve his revenge here he is speaking to Marcellus and Horatio saying, ”To put and antic disposition on- That you, at such times seeing me, never shall," (Shakespeare 1379) which foreshadows a change in Hamlet’s character. For Hamlet to get revenge he must change the way he acts in doing so he starts to struggle with everything else in his life like his relationships with Ophiela, and Gertrude. When seeing his father's ghost, he unquestionably accepts all he hears as truth, but doesn't act on it until he can verify it in some way. His organization of the players' performance of "The Murder of Gonzago" shows this well; only after seeing Claudius' reaction to the play does he prepare to act on the Ghost's plea for revenge.
The ghost asks Hamlet to avenge his “most foul murder.” However, he warns Hamlet not to let revenge consume his mind. Ironically, Hamlet states “I’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records, all saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, that youth and observation copied there, and thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain, unmixed with baser matter”(Shakespeare I.V.106-111). In order for Hamlet to avenge his father, first he needs the proper evidence. Hamlet decides to create a play about a man who kills his brother, hoping that when Claudius sees it, he has a reaction showing his guilt. It is when Hamlet gets proof of Claudius’ guilt that he allows his emotions to dictate his actions.
Lack of trust often leads to one’s downfall. This is shown in “Hamlet,” a play by William Shakespeare, and in the short story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. The main character in each of these works lacks trust and this ultimately leads to their deaths. The conflicts, theme and characterization in these literary works display why trust is needed in everyone’s life. In William Shakespeare's play, the main character, Hamlet finds out his father, the king, was killed by his uncle, Claudius.