Hamlet And Macbeth : Mental Illness Or Internal Warfare

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Courtney Gillespie
AP Literature and Composition
2 November 2017
Mental Illness or Internal Warfare? The thoughts and actions of Shakespeare’s most famous tragic heroes, Hamlet and Macbeth, resemble the symptoms of those who suffer from mental illnesses; however, their “illnesses” stem from their personal strife. Hamlet and Macbeth both experienced traumatic events whether of their own doing, or someone else’s, the repercussions from those events are not going to be small and unnoticed. The mental illness, schizophrenia, is not fully understood, so it is not easy to diagnose. “The current DSM states that ‘no laboratory findings have been identified that are diagnostic of schizophrenia… so little is understood about underlying causes of psychiatric illnesses.’” (Gomory) Both Hamlet and Macbeth exhibit actions that are similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia. The Mayo Clinic Staff stated that, “Hallucinations: seeing or hearing things that don’t exists… with full force and impact of a normal experience,” is a symptom of this disease. (Mayo Clinic Staff) Macbeth experiences hallucinations when he hosts the dinner at his house. He sees Banquo sitting in his chair at the head of the table, and struck with horror, he begins to yell at the ghost. His guests think he is crazy and Lady Macbeth has to cover for him. His hallucination is caused by his guilt of letting his thirst for power cloud his judgement. Suicidal thoughts are also a common side effect of people with

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