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Hamlet Was Not Mad - Essay Example

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In our world, we are forced to deal with the politics of power. Power comes in two basic forms and we need to be aware of each in order to make headway in the modern world. Power has traditionally come through the control of the purse strings. The one …
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Hamlet Was Not Mad
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Topic: Teacher: Hamlet is not a Mad Character Hamlet, the protagonist of the play, Hamlet cannot be regarded as a madcharacter on the basis of his intellectual thoughts and better understanding of events and happenings revealed in the play. There is unquestionably a little view for the observation that Hamlet has in actuality gone mad. The manner, which Hamlet adopts to speak with Polonius, the two courtiers-Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, with Ophelia and with the King seems to confirm this view, as does Hamlet’s causeless murder of Polonius. However, all these facts do not prove Hamlet to be a mad person if kept in comparison with his thought patterns and his intellectual words. The reason for not considering Hamlet as a mad person is that Hamlet always talks in a manner that shows that his speech has logic and reasoning in it, which mad people do not show. In addition, his speeches in the whole play prove him as an intellectual person who understands everything with logic. All Hamlet’s speeches, when he is unaccompanied or when he is with Horatio whom he has taken into confidence are unquestionably the statements of a person who is not only rational but has an outstandingly influential understanding (Weitz126). All his soliloquies are not only articulate and commonsensical but have a deepness of contemplation, which disclose the speaker as a philosophical intellectual. His sweeping statements in the course of his soliloquies show his profound intelligence such as, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (Act I, Scene II, 146) “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” (Act I, Scene V, 109) “…………….What is a man If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed?” (Act IV, Scene IV, 33-35) No person who had even a little stroke of insanity could have spoken as Hamlet does in his soliloquies. These are certainly not speeches of a disordered mind, though they are indicative of a sensitive soul. Therefore, it cannot be said in any way that Hamlet is a mad character as none of his intellectual speeches prove this point. Hamlet is disturbed on the sudden death of his father and his mother’s hasty marriage due to which, he considers the world as an unprofitable place to live as he says: “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,  Seem to me all the uses of this world!” (Act I, Scene II, 133-134) Hamlet is highly speculative by nature and analyzes the situations in which, he is trapped due to which, he remains in a forlorn state. The circumstances that have affected Hamlet are responsible to disturbing him as a person. According to Macek (1997), “The play Hamlet Prince of Denmark features a title character who is not a victim of an Oedipus complex or is in any real way insane, rather Hamlet is a sane man dealing with his own insane circumstances who must deal directly with his love for his fallen father and his malice toward his incestuous mother.” Macek (1997) in his statement informs that it is not Hamlet who is insane; it is his circumstances, which he has to face. He considers his mother’s marriage as an incestuous act and is unable to forgive his mother while he loves his father immensely. The circumstances, which Hamlet has to face, made him sensitive and speculative. However, he has not lacked the control of his mind. Polonius, on hearing his daughter’s description of Hamlet’s visit to her, comes to the conclusion that Hamlet has lost his mind on account of his frustration in love as he says, “This is the very ecstasy of love ……………………………… That hath made him mad”. (Act II, Scene I, 99-107) However, the king, who is a very astute person, does not believe Hamlet to be mad for love or for any other reason. For example, he tells Polonius in the nunnery scene that, although what Hamlet had spoken, “………….lack’d form a little Was not like madness”. (Act III, Scene I, 163-164) The King, Claudius was not sure about Hamlet’s madness and considered him in sanity due to which, he claimed that Hamlet was not mad. Bradley in his account on Hamlet, says, “He (Claudius) is by no means certain even that Hamlet is mad at all”. (Bradley 1919, 56) This quote is again indicative of the fact that Hamlet was not mad at all as the King was not able to consider him mad. Even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do not consider Hamlet to be insane. Guildenstern illustrates about Hamlet’s situation as a “crafty madness”, which means that Hamlet is merely trying to create an impression of madness. Shakespeare never planned to characterize Hamlet as a mad character as whatever speeches, he allowed Hamlet to deliver negate him as a mad person and reveal his intellect upon his readers. He purposely made Hamlet as a feigner of insanity, and when Hamlet was interested to show actual insanity, he fashioned actual insanity and displayed it before Ophelia with such truth and expertise that she had no doubt on his madness as she says, “O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!” (Act III, Scene I, 150) Hamlet is not mad at all, he is totally good at mind. “There is plenty of eccentricity in him, plenty of fantastic thinking and feeling, plenty of the wandering imagination and plenty of wild phrases” (Weitz 152). Nevertheless, these features do not represent insanity. He always is fully aware of what he is going to do or act; he always observes his situation unmistakably; he always has logics for his point, which he delivers with articulation and reason and he always comprehends his people, their doings and himself as it is said, “Hamlet has no way of unambiguously understanding what anyone says to him.” (Leverenz 1978, 293) He has a clear mind and he understands everything. His madness is crafted as he himself says, “……….I essentially am not in madness, But mad in craft…………….” (Act III, Scene IV, 187-188) Hamlet pretends to be mad as a measure of self-protection. The ghost’s disclosure demonstrates before him the hazards to his own life and on his persistent survival depends his carrying out of the vengeance that the ghost enforced upon him (Aquirre 169). Having knowledge of the reality, Hamlet must catch his father’s executioner without betraying his knowledge till his appointed task is accomplished. Therefore, he makes his mind up to keep up an “antic disposition” as a shade below which, he can gaze at the king and wait for his occasion of vengeance. “He (Shakespeare) chose the story of a hero who is forced to feign madness in order to follow the winding paths that lead him to the completion of his act” (Lacan, et al 1977, 20) Hamlet adopts to portray himself as a mad character to betray Claudius and for getting to the end of his action that was to take revenge for his father’s murder. Hamlet regards his mother as a guilty character as she married Claudius very soon after Hamlet’s father’s death due to which, Hamlet considered this act as incestuous. According to T. S. Eliot (1972), Hamlet’s bears the burden of his mother’s guilt, which causes problems for him in order to take any action; it is his mother’s degenerative act, which was intolerable for him (144). It was this guilt due to which, he did not take revenge from Claudius soon after the revelation of the truth of his assassination plan against Hamlet’s father. He posed to be mad to take refuge in a physical condition in which, he can make the king to do something that provides him a chance to take revenge. As a son, he cannot take support of his mother because she was guilty in his eyes. Therefore, he feigned to be mad but in actuality, he was not mad. After going through all the facts related to Hamlet and his physical condition, it is quite clear that Hamlet cannot be proved as a mad character. Hamlet was fully sane, which is quite evident from his intellectual speeches and his actions, which he performs in the play. However, he feigned to be mad in order to get a chance to take revenge of his father’s murder. Claudius and other characters of the play doubted about Hamlet’s madness and considered him fully sane. Hamlet’s logical and rational speeches and doings point towards his clear and comprehensive mind. Works Cited Aguirre, Manuel. "Life, Crown, and Queen: Gertrude and the Theme of Sovereignty." Review of English Studies 47(186) (May 1996): 163-74. Bradley, A. C. “Lecture IV: Hamlet”. Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Macmillan, 1919. Also available at http://www.munseys.com/diskthree/stra.pdf Eliot, T. S. “Hamlet and His Problems”. Selected Essays. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1972. Also available at http://www.bartleby.com/200/sw9.html Lacan, Jacques; Miller, Jacques-Alain and Hulbert, James. Desire and Interpretation of Desire in Hamlet. Yale French Studies 55/56, (1977): 11-52. Also available at http://www.wehavephotoshop.com/PHILOSOPHY%20NOW/PHILOSOPHY/Lacan/Jacques.Lacan.Desire.And.The.Interpretation.Of.Desire.In.Hamlet.pdf Leverenz, David. The Women in Hamlet: An Interpersonal View. Signs 4 (2), (1978): 291-308. Also available at http://www2.fwcds.org/Faculty/Faculty%20Resources%20Page/Boberg/Women%20in%20Hamlet.pdf Macek, J. C. Ill Will: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Hamlet. 1997. Accessed on 11th March 2011 from http://resurrectionjoe.tripod.com/illwill.html Shakespeare, William (Writer) and Branagh, Kenneth (Director). Hamlet (Film). Internet Movie Database, 1996. Available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116477/ Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1998. Weitz, Morris. Hamlet and the Philosophy of Literary Criticism. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964. Read More
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