Hamlet 's Sanity Is A Subject Of Much Debate

1632 WordsMar 3, 20177 Pages
The question of Hamlet’s sanity has been a subject of much debate. As Stephan Greenblatt states in his observations about Hamlet in his essay “Hamlet”: “Is Hamlet’s madness feigned or true, a strategy masquerading as reality or a reality masquerading as a strategy?” (1181). While Greenblatt lays out two possible courses, could there be a third option in this scenario? “… Hamlet cleverly uses madness as a cover under which he will determine the truth of the Ghost’s story before accepting the self-damning course of revenge” (Evans, 6). While Evans’ explanation can be seen as an argument that Hamlet is “acting” the part, could this observation also be used to imply that Hamlet knows the end result of his actions? Has Shakespeare set Hamlet…show more content…
Over the relatively short time line of the story Shakespeare shows Hamlet internally direct this melancholy towards a warring state of resolve, yet with confusion about how things have gotten to this surreal point, “I have of late, but wherefore I/ know not, lost all my mirth / … / and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition”(2.2.257,258,259) The reality of the situation overwhelms Hamlet, Shakespeare alludes to this in Hamlet’s references to bad dreams while speaking with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, “… were it not that I have bad dreams. / … / A dream itself is but a shadow” (2.2.231.16, 231.21). Not only does this appear to be alluding to the situation of his father’s death, his mother’s marrying his uncle, and his father’s ghost crying out for revenge, but here, is a hint of foreshadowing of his descent. Life is a whirlpool of events with the only foreseeable path out of it is toward revenge. It is this that has Hamlet questioning life itself: To be or not to be: that is the question, Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to takes arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them. To die … (3.1.55-59) Ultimately, it is looking at the patterns within the text that gives clues to the true state of Hamlet’s sanity. It is his interactions with others within the play that is telling. Like a Greek actor, he puts
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