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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Hamlet:was He Mad - 1376 words
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Hamlet: Was He Mad? For centuries, scholars have been debating the issue on whether Hamlet - the prince ofWilliam Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet - was mad. This question is not as easy as it sounds toanswer; this is due to the fact that there are numerous arguments to support both sides of theissue. For many reasons, it is easy to believe that Hamlet was indeed mad. After all, Hamlet'sbehavior throughout most of the play is extremely erratic and violent. However, there is anotherway to look at his actions; there are indications within the play that there was actually a method inhis madness, suggesting that he was not mad at all.
One of the major arguments that Hamlet was mad, was his erratic and violent behavior inmany parts of the play. His erratic behavior is especially evident in his conversation with Ophelia:Hamlet: ..I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth! We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us.. * Act 3 Scene 1 One minute Hamlet tells Ophelia that ""I did love you once.""1 Then in his next line he says ""Iloved you not.""2 This quick change in moods suggests that he was mad. Hamlet: Nay, but to live In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, Stew'd in corruption, honeying and makinglove Over the nasty sty- 1 - Act 3, Scene 1 2 - Act 3, Scene 1 Queen: O, speak to me no more;These words like daggers enter in my ears
No more, sweet Hamlet. *Act 3 Scene 4 This excerpt is from Hamlet's conversation with his mother after he lays his trap down onClaudius. He speaks with such anger and wrath that his own mother fears him and screams forhelp. Consequently, Polonius who is hiding behind the curtains screams for help, and Hamlet stabshim thinking that he had caught Claudius spying on him. Hamlet: Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thybetter, take thy fortune: Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.. *Act3 Scene 4 Throughout this whole scene Hamlet seems mad: the rage he expresses towards hismother, he killed Polonius in a ''fit of madness', and also when Hamlet seniors ghost appears tohim.
This is the point in the play when Hamlet seems the most mad. In all of the other instances,everyone was able to see the ghost; but in this scene the ghost can only be seen by Hamlet. WhenHamlet starts speaking to the ghost even his mother thinks that he is mad: ""This is the verycoinage of your brain: This bodiless creation ecstasy is very cunning in.""1 When the queenreports this deed to Claudius, she sates the he was: ""Mad as the sea and wind...""2 When Hamlet goes before Claudius to confess for the murder of Polonius, he refuses totell where the body went, and seems to make a joke out of the whole thing. Claudius: Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius? Hamlet: At supper. Claudius:Atsupper! Where? Hamlet: Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politicworms are e'en at him.. Hamlet: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat ofthe fish that hath fed of that worm.
*Act 4 Scene 3 1 - Act 3 Scene 4 2 - Act 4 Scene 1 Even when telling Claudius where the body was, he seemed to take the whole incident as ajoke. ""..You shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.""1 ""He will stay till youcome.""1 Hamlet's madness is not only evident in his actions and words, but sometimes in histhoughts. During Hamlet's first soliloquy, he expresses deep anger and resentment against hisfather's death and his mother's hasty remarriage to his uncle. Hamlet:O, that this too too-solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His cannon ''gainst self-slaughter! God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable profitableSeem to me all the uses of this world!.. *Act 1 Scene 2 All of the incidents outlined above are indications that Hamlet was indeed mad.
However,there are also many occasions in which Hamlet's behavior was completely sane, and infact showthere was a method to his madness. Near the beginning of the play, after Hamlet sees the ghost ofhis father, he even tells his only friend and confident, Horatio, that he is going to put an act ofmadness on. Hamlet: Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or oddsoe'er I bear myself, As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put anticdisposition on,.. *Act 1 Scene 5 Polonius recognizes that his madness seems to be some sort of act after speaking toHamlet in Act Polonius: Though this be madness, yet there is method in't. How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness that often madnesshits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of.*Act 2 Scene 2 1 - Act 4 Scene 3 In the same seen Hamlet finds out that his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arespying on him for the king and queen. In this passage he tells them: ""You are welcome: but myuncle-father and aunt-mother are decieved.""1 Here he is hinting to them that he is deceiving theking and queen into believing that he is mad.
He then admits to them that his madness is just anact: ""I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from ahandsaw.""1 However, Claudius is not so easily deceived. When Polonius and Claudius spy onHamlet when he is talking to Ophelia, Claudius admits that Hamlet's words, although strange donot stem from madness: ""Love! his affections do not that way tend; Nor what he spake, though itlack'd form a little, was not like madness."" Another instance where Hamlet admits his sanity iswhen he is speaking with his mother in Act 3 Scene 4. After Hamlet sees the ghost, the queenproclaims that he must be mad, because she could not see the ghost. But after the ghost leaves,Hamlet confesses to his mother that he is indeed sane, but he convinces her to tell Claudiusotherwise. Hamlet: My pulse, as yours, does temperately keep time, And makes ashealthful music: it is not madness That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,And I the matter will re-word, which madness Would gambol from....That I essentially am not in madness, But mad in craft..
*Act 3 Scene 4 Each of the incidents mentioned before are good evidence of Hamlet's sanity. On severaloccasions, he himself admitted that his madness was only a mask. Polonius and Claudius evenrecognized that there seemed to be method in his actions. Notice, when you read this play, thatHamlet's behavior changes abruptly when he is around different characters as well. He appearsonly to act insane around characters like Claudius, Polonius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Rosencrantz,Guildenstern, and Laertes.
When by himself, Hamlet appeared very depressed and angry, but in nosense mad. His behavior was also quite normal when he was around characters such as Horatio,Bernardo, Francisco, the actors, and the grave-diggers. All of this evidence suggests that Hamletwas not mad. Now, to answer the question: Was Hamlet mad? As you can see, this question is not soeasily answered. There are almost equally good points for both sides of the question. Afterreading Hamlet the first time, I concluded that he must have been mad.
After all, his behaviorthrough a good part of the play is very erratic and violent, and generally the actions of a mad-man. However, I found after digging deeper into Hamlet's psyche, that he was perfectly sane andvery intelligent. This is evident on several occasions where Hamlet admits to others that hismadness was just a fascaute. More evidence that he was sane, was the fact that Polonius andClaudius both noticed that there was more to Hamlet's words and action than meet the eye. Sure,Hamlet's actions throughout the play make him seem mad, but in reality, this madness was just atactic of his in his plan to get revenge for his father's wrongful death. So, to answer the questionHamlet - the prince of William Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet - mad? No.
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