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Insanity in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Madness in Hamlet

Madness in Hamlet

Hamlet’s choice to put on an “antic disposition” leads to his downfall; it is a tragic error in judgement (hamartia) which destroys his relationship with Ophelia and Gertrude. It is Hamlet’s hubris. Another result from Hamlet’s peculiar actions, is that in his own mind he begins to believe that he is mad. It is unfortunate that Hamlet’s plan did not succeed; not only did it lead to his own downfall but he had to witness the downfall of all of the people he loved.

With his choice to put on this act of antic disposition, he takes the risk of losing close touch with his loved ones. With his actions of insanity, he drives Ophelia away from him and this eventually leads to her suicide. Ophelia is greatly saddened when Hamlet continues to push her further and further away. Hamlet commands her to go to a nunnery and this is the point where she believes he is mad.

O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown! ( III; i; 147)

When Hamlet’s act continues to unfold, Ophelia begins to feel very betrayed by his love. With only her feelings of rejected love and betrayal left she takes her own life.

Young men will do’t if they come to’t.

By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,

You promised me to wed.’ ( IV; v; 60-64)

It is after the death of Ophelia that Hamlet realizes his true feelings for her. This is another contributing factor that leads to Hamlet’s own downfall.

This tragic error in judgement leads Hamlet to destroy his relationship with his mother, Gertrude. By faking this madness he makes himself a less be…

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…t Ophelia he felt as if he had lost much more. His saddness is covered by his jealousy and this leads to further maddness. Hamlet is on a path of destruction with no return.

All these events have built up and contributed to Hamlet’s downfall. He lost the love of his life, his dear mother and has lost his own mind. Hamlet’s choice to put on this antic disposition was a tragic error in judgement (harmartia). It was Hamlet’s hubris.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations Of Hamlet. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Charney, Maurice. All of Shakespeare. New York, NY. Columbia University Press. 1993.

Magill, Frank N. Masterplots. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1995.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Riverside Shakespeare. ED. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Haughton Mifflin Company, 1974.

The Loneliness of Hamlet

The Loneliness of Hamlet

Hamlet was a lonely, isolated character, with few friends, and little faith in humanity. His loneliness played a great role in his downfall, by alienating him from his friends and family and eventually taking control of his actions. He did not share the knowledge of his father’s murder or the appearance of the ghost with anyone. He couldn’t even trust his friends and family, and he hid his true feelings from his only love, Ophelia, driving her to suicide. These events lead eventually to his downfall, and could have been avoided by sharing his dilemma.

Two of Hamlets friends, Horatio and Marcellus, were standing watch at the castle one night when they witnessed the first apparition of the ghost of Hamlet’s father. They decided to confide in their friend, and tell Hamlet of what had taken place. The following night, the three of them all stood watch to wait for the ghost. It appeared, and informed Hamlet that his uncle, Claudius, had murdered his father. Immediately following this, Hamlet declared that the event must be kept in secrecy “Never make known what you have seen tonight (I;v;144).” In order to prove the validity of the ghost, Hamlet would have to find proof of his father’s murder, without sharing his ideas with anyone. He decided to make believe he was mad, so that the members of the king’s court could excuse his behavior as he plotted his revenge. However, as he kept to himself, he became overwhelmed by his “madness” and fell into a deeper state of loneliness, ignoring those close to him, as he contemplated the value of life. “…it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’er hanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire-why it appears nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors…(II;ii;289)”

As Hamlet tried to prove the murder of his father and have his revenge, Claudius discovered that Hamlet knew the truth. Claudius hired two of Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy on Hamlet in secret, “…be even and direct with me whether you were sent for or no (II;ii;278-79).” Later on, Claudius and Polonius, the father of Ophelia, also spied on Hamlet when he was with Ophelia, trying to discover the cause of his madness “Ophelia, walk you here.

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