To them at this point comes a fantastic courtier, Osric, with a challenge from Laertes to a bout at fencing, the king having laid a wager that Hamlet, with certain odds given, will prove himself more than a match for his opponent. Polonius is the first to declare him mad, and he thinks it is because Ophelia has repelled his love.
Now I am not of course going to set my ignorance against the profound knowledge of these experts; I readily accept all the statements set out as to the symptoms of madness; and yet I deny the conclusion at which the experts have arrived.
I eat the air, promise-crammed. His want of resolution to act immediately is indeed manifest, but it is as manifest to himself as to us.
Such simulation, however, would be of no avail if Marcellus and Horatio were free to speak of the manner in which he had met their inquiries, and therefore he anticipates all risk by a confession that he may perchance hereafter think meet to put on a disposition similar to that already assumed towards them; while by a second oath of equal solemnity to the former The reasons for the insanity of hamlet he binds them not so much as to give the faintest hint that if they chose they could explain his strangeness, and to this pledge as before the Ghost from beneath adjures them.
Shakespeare-Lexicon, by Alexander Schmidt, 3rd edition, Berlin, It has never been agreed by critics that Hamlet is really mad.
His eloquent verse which follows shows that he still retains his sanity. His avowed intention to act "strange or odd" and to "put an antic disposition on" 1 I. Turning from the dead body, he reproaches his mother with having blurred the grace of all womanly modesty, with having made marriage vows a hideous mockery, and religion a mere rhapsody of words.
Such a declaration I have already admitted is in itself no absolute proof; yet, as Stearns observes, Hamlet had special reasons for disabusing his mother of her belief in his insanity.
However, as soon as Claudius returns, Hamlet once again speaks in prose: For a while we hear nothing more of him, for he is on his voyage to England.
Claudius is his uncle, he has known Hamlet since he was an infant. If Hamlet were truly going mad, his manner of speech would not change depending on the person to whom he was speaking.
Such a belief would act as a "flattering unction" to her soul, and thus frustrate his purpose of driving home to her conscience that recognition of her guilt which it is his aim to awaken. Then comparing his father and his uncle, he dwells on the noble nature of the one, and the vileness of the other; anticipates any excuses she might make by telling her that at her time of life a plea of having been carried away by love would be an absurdity, and that if passion dominated her it was all the more shameful in a matron.
Incidentally, I have now considered the question whether Hamlet, though not mad at the outset, becomes so after the acting of the Court-play; and there remains only the theory that he was neither mad at any period nor pretended to be mad. Though it would be possible to make a case that Hamlet is mad, the case would have to ignore the understated signals of his sanity.
This change is most obvious in act 3, scene 2. His first object is to ascertain whether they have been set as spies upon him, and without much difficulty he turns them completely inside out, while the apparently irrelevant observations he makes from time to time, together with the confidence he pretends to repose in them as to his state of mind, impresses them with the idea of his insanity; none the less firmly that he deprecates such an idea by declaring that he is "but mad north-north-west.
How to cite this article: There are a number of scenes in which Hamlet is acting madly--but where is there a scene in which he is obviously not "acting"? In his instructions to them, therefore, there is no admixture of "wild and whirling words"; nothing in fact that is not eminently judicious and to the point.
So, too, when Horatio joins him, his intellect is as calm and clear, his reasoning as sound, the expression of his feelings as sober, and the plan of action he announces as practical, as the most exacting judge could desire.
Later on, alone with his one friend, Hamlet relates in minute detail the circumstances of his escape from being carried into England, and plainly announces his intention of killing the king.
When he acts the most madly he is obviously just acting. But before stating reasons in support of this assumption, it will be convenient to consider the views of those who hold that Hamlet was more or less insane from the time at which the Ghost appeared to him.
To understand the madness as real is to make of the play a mad-house tragedy that could have no meaning for the very sane Englishmen for whom Shakespeare wrote. Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Although at times it may appear that his behavior is abnormal or even bordering on crazy, Hamlet is simply a man dealing with an impossible situation, attempting to please the ghost of his father, and right the wrongs around him.
Contrast his demeanour then with the instantaneous change upon the entry of the king; contrast it with his behaviour to Polonius while the play is preparing, and to Ophelia during the action of the play; note his irrepressible exultation, when alone with Horatio, at the success of his stratagem, and again the immediate resumption of his "antic disposition" upon the re-entry of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Passing over his reflections when watching the king at prayer with the remark that, passionate as they are, they betray nothing of an impaired intellect, we come to the interview to which his mother has summoned him.
With them it matters nothing that he should appear in his sound senses; they are not likely to have either the opportunity or the wish to betray him. Two further facts have to be borne in mind. The other fact is that, in the story from which Shakespeare takes his plot, the insanity of the hero is avowedly a disguise; and that while in the earlier quarto Shakespeare gives the imitation a much closer resemblance to reality, in the later quarto he softens down the picture, apparently in order that with his audience there may arise no misconception of the truth.
To his old friend, Guildenstem, he intimates that "his uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived," and that he is only "mad north-north-west. Another indication that Hamlet has not gone mad is that he has planned his odd behavior as part of his revenge. On this point the experts, the "mad-doctors", as they are sometimes called, are tolerably unanimous.
But before separating from them he determines to bind his companions by an oath not to reveal what they have seen.
As the oath is being administered, the Ghost from beneath three several times calls upon them to swear, and thus greatly emphasizes the sanctity of their pledge. From the outline already given it will be seen that the first of these hypotheses is assumed.
How can anybody know what Hamlet is really thinking or planning if he is mad? Their sudden return to Elsinore strikes Hamlet as something strange, and he quickly guesses that the king is at the bottom of it.Hamlet: What initially caused Hamlet's insanity?
Claudius explains that he does not want to take strong action against his stepson for two reasons: (1) the people love him and might revolt; (2.
Get an answer for 'In Shakespeare's Hamlet, what is the cause of Hamlet's madness? Use details from the play to support your answer.' and find homework help for other Hamlet questions at eNotes.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare discusses the theme of insanity by presenting Hamlet, Laertes, and Ophelia’s unusual actions and thoughts as madness. Hamlet has a sober insanity, which means he is actually not crazy but pretends to be. Sep 30, · Hamlet is using his ostensible insanity in order to achieve his revenge – a madman is not viewed as a threat to the king’s power.
Additionally, to diagnose Hamlet with a mental illness would be poor psychoanalysis. Everything you ever wanted to know about the quotes talking about Madness in Hamlet, written by experts just for you.
Category: Shakespeare Hamlet Essays; Title: Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Investigating Hamlet's Sanity. My Account. Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Investigating Hamlet's Sanity. insanity lies in the reasons for his insanity.
He is constantly betrayed.Download