Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, a Shakespearean tragedy, tells the story of Prince Hamlet, who gained the knowledge of a terrible incident that his kingdom had suffered. Claudius, the king of Denmark and Hamlet’s uncle, had killed his own brother, the king, who was also the father of Hamlet, and married his brother’s widow. Hamlet suffered these traumas to a severe degree, and his only relief was to defeat his human weaknesses and correct the wrongs created by his uncle.
The soliloquy selected to describe the emotions of Hamlet, after discovering the evil doings of his uncle, is found within the lines one hundred twenty-nine to one hundred fifty-nine (Hamlet Prince 71). Hamlet’s first reaction was to look for a way out, which would be a common response for several humans if they were placed in that situation. He wished for death and questioned God’s decision that suicide be a sin. Most human beings, when placed as leaders in a difficult situation, will look for ways to free themselves of their responsibility. Even Jesus Christ, the greatest being to walk the face of this earth, according to Christianity, searched for a way out as He took upon him the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane. In St. Mathew 26:39 he said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou will” (The Holy Bible 1235). Hamlet realized, as Jesus did, that he was in a situation where he was the only man to do the job. Therefore, he forgot about his own death and suicidal thoughts and concentrated more on bringing his uncle to justice.
Throughout the play, Hamlet demonstrates a witty personality although he is bogged down by the knowledge of his f…
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…as pulled into this situation by chance, and it was left in his hands to justify his father’s death. He did what he had to do according to his own manner.
The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1989.
Dodsworth, Martin. Hamlet Closely Observed. New Hampshire: The Athlone Press, 1985.
Kravitz, David. Who’s Who in Greek and Roman Mythology. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1975.
Lidz, Theodore. Hamlet’s Enemy, Madness and Myth in Hamlet. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1975.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet Prince of Denmark. A Pocketful of Plays. Vintage Drama. Ed. David Madden. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – The Pretended Madness of Hamlet
The Pretended Madness of Hamlet
Hamlet, knowing that he will get into difficulty, needs to feign madness for the purpose of carrying out his mission. He rehearses his pretended madnesss first with Ophelia, for even if he should fail there in his act of simulation, that failure will not cause him any real harm. The manifestations of insanity that Hamlet will show become predictable – a sure sign that it is a simulated and not a real insanity.
When Hamlet is with a trustworthy friend, he is rational and symptom-free; as soon as those persons appear, however, whom he wants to convince that he is mad, he changes his behavior so as to implant different explanations in their minds for his noticeable irrational behavior. With Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he makes believe that the reason for it is frustrated ambition; with the Queen and King, that it is their marriage that has upset him; and with Polonius and Ophelia, that it is frustrated love that has driven him mad. These rapid and clumsy changes from rational speech with those he trusts to irrational conversation with those whom he wishes to impress are strong evidence of fraud.
In a character profile which I read by Max Huhner who has published several literary essays, Huhner reduces the problem of Hamlet to one factor, of the sort that Freud conceptualized as “secondary gain in mental disease.” Hamlet, says Huhner, “could not hold his tongue or keep a secret, and was therefore entirely unfitted for diplomatic work. In a sense his feigning insanity was his sole avenue of safety.” It is along these same lines that I have tried to prove the reasonableness of Hamlet’s cruel dealings with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, justifying on grounds of practical necessity and the desire to avoid risks the fact Hamlet arranged their execution without heir having had a chance to receive the assistance of the Church.
I could summarize my own character analysis of Hamlet as essentially a picture of an impractical man, who has nevertheless proceeded with optimal effect under existing external and internal conditions.