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The Perfectly Portrayed Madness of Hamlet

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Taylor Evans

Mrs. Julian

English IV Honors

17 December 2015

The Perfectly Portrayed Madness of Hamlet  

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark but it is not the Prince Hamlets mind. In William Shakespeare’s, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, even though Hamlets madness is a pivotal catalyst during the play it is nothing more than a ruse mixed with the overflowing grief of a young man who just lost this father, Hamlet displays critical thinking, cunning wit and genuine outburst of emotions throughout, both of which are completely uncharacteristic of any kind of mental illness.  

The death of King Hamlet left Hamlet completely broken and almost lost in his purpose of life. During his time of need he is not able to truly grieve or express his feelings. His mother who has shaken off the death of her husband quickly through her marriage to Claudius excepts the same from Hamlet, “Thou know’st ‘its common all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.” ( 1.2.70-73) the death of the king is almost ignored in the emotional toll it should of taken on the loved ones of the king and even Denmark. The emotions of sadness and melancholy are the most associated with loss even though a person will go through a spectrum of emotions with dealing with a tragedy. These emotions will often fluctuate in any aspects but when you are not able to address them properly the most extreme of each can and will most likely be seen “We spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity.” (Axelrod). Hamlet is by no means crazy but only dealing with the five stages of grief all at once.

 Hamlet is not only facing his own grief but once the ghost of his father appears to him to tell that he had been murdered by his now step-father king Claudius he is told to take action against him. The first act in the plot of revenge is the most convincing point against Hamlets madness,   “How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself

(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet

To put an antic disposition on),

That you, at such times seeing me, never shall—

With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,

Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase” (1.5.171-174)

Hamlet is assuring his most trusted friend Horatio that no matter how strange he was behaving he it was all an act, Hamlet is declaring his own sanity. Cunning and creative measures are put in place so hamlet is assured that he can seek revenge for his father. The “Mouse Trap” was constructed with its only purpose to be to prove Claudius guilty, no person with a chronic mental illness would be able to pull of something as crafty as the play, not only that but it would unlikely to see a mentally ill person speaking in the quick wit Hamlet responds in. Hamlet wants to be perceived as mad during the play the main reason that idea of his madness is presented is because he wants it to be “To say that the Queen and the King along with other thought he was mad is no proof of real madness; but only that by his perfect impersonation he succeeded in creating this belief.” (Blackmore). The idea of being mad is repeated by characters who are not really even paying attention to Hamlet and only looking at the surface of the actions, other characters recognize an underlying meaning, “Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t”(2.2.195-196).

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