In Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet faced many dilemmas that led to his transformation throughout the play. The people around him and the ghost of his father dramatically affect him. Seeing his father’s ghost had changed his fate and the person he had become. The path he chose after his encounter with his father’s ghost led to his death.
In the beginning of the story, Hamlet’s character was struggling with the sudden marriage of his mother, Gertrude, to his uncle, Claudius, a month after his father is death. For a young man, it’s hard to believe that he understood why his mother quickly married Claudius especially since, Claudius is his uncle. Later he learned that his father’s ghost was sighted. Intuitively, he knew there had to be some kind of “foul play.” At this point, Hamlet is a university student; his morals and way of thinking are defined by books and what was taught to him. This is seen when he speaks about the flaws of men, setting a bad reputation for all, and the man’s flaws causing their “downfall.”(a.1, sc.4, l.)
Upon meeting his father’s ghost, he learns that Claudius killed his father, and that he must take on the task of avenging his death. This encounter changed who he is completely. He said that he will wipe away books, the past, and all of the things he was taught. He will live “within the book and volume of …brain”(a.1, sc.5, l.). He only will live through this purpose in life, and everything else is erased from his memory. He is possibly trying to shut down the part of him that knows right from wrong. His purpose his more important than all else, even if it means destroying on people along the way. He was on a mission that was larger than he had ever imagined. He was driven by grief and ambition.
After he meets the ghost, Hamlet begins to treat people cold-heartedly. His is led by his mind, but not his heart. The acts of cruelty on Hamlet’s part were done because pity or sympathy no longer exists within. His treatment of Ophelia, his only true love, is disgusting. He also treated his mother in a rude fashion. He felt betrayed by his mother because he loved and trusted her, but she went and married his uncle soon after his father’s death.
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Both a Sane and Insane Hamlet
Sane or Insane Hamlet: Support for both Positions
Shakespeare’s tragic hero, Hamlet, and his sanity can arguably be discussed. Many portions of the play supports his loss of control in his actions, while other parts uphold his ability of dramatic art. The issue can be discussed both ways and altogether provide significant support to either theory. There are indications from Hamlet throughout the play of his mind’s well being.
Hamlet’s antic disposition may have caused him in certain times that he is in a roleplay.
Hamlet has mood swings as his mood changes abruptly throughout the play. Hamlet appears to act mad when he hears of his father’s murder. At the time he speaks wild and whirling words:Why, right; you are I’ the right; And so, without more circumstance at all, I hold it fit that we shake hands and part… [Act I, scene V, lines 127-134]. It seems as if there are two Hamlets in the play, one that is sensitive and an ideal prince, and the insane barbaric Hamlet who from an outburst of passion and rage slays Polonius with no feeling of remorse, Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! / I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune;/ Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger.- [Act III. scene IV, lines 31-33] and then talks about lugging his guts into another room. After Hamlet kills Polonius he will not tell anyone where the body is. Instead he assumes his ironic matter which others take it as madness. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. / A certain convocation of political worms a e’en at him. [Act IV, scene III, lines 20-21]
If your messenger find him not there, seek him I’ th’ other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
[Act IV, scene iii, lines 33-36].
Hamlet’s behavior throughout the play, especially towards Ophelia is inconsistent. He jumps into Ophelia’s grave, and fights with Laertes in her grave. He professes I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/Could not, with all their quantity of love,/ Make up my sum [Act V, scene I, lines 250-253], during the fight with Laertes in Ophelia’s grave, but he tells her that he never loved her, when she returns his letters and gifts, while she was still alive. Hamlet subtly hints his awareness of his dissolving sanity as he tells Laertes that he killed Polonius in a fit of madness [Act V, scene II, lines 236-250]