Hamlet's Paranoia

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Hamlet, the eponymous hero of Shakespeare’s greatest work, descends swiftly into madness and paranoia after the murder of his father and the realization of his mother’s true, morally reprehensible, nature. As a result of these new responsibilities and extreme circumstances, Hamlet diverges from his usual, logical thinking into paranoia and over analysis, a condition that prevents him from trusting anyone. Hamlet, having been born a prince, is, for the first time, forced to make his own decisions after he learns of the true means of his father’s death. Another contributing factor to his madness is the constant probing of others into Hamlet’s sanity. These factors all contribute to Hamlets delay, and that delay contributes to the tragic…show more content…
Goethe says, “He feels that now he is not more, that he is less, than a private nobleman; he offers himself as the servant of every one: he is not courteous and condescending, he is needy and degraded” (42). Hamlet, still mourning the death of his father, does not take this shift in stride, but rather lurches forward at a snail’s pace . Hamlet explains to his mother, “’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, nor customary suits of solemn black nor windy suspiration of forced breath, no, nor the fruitful river in the eye, nor the dejected havior of the visage, together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, that can denote me truly” (I. 2. 80-86). As Hamlet’s family falls apart, the growing shade of his paranoia comes fuller into form. Hamlet has thrust upon him the dual responsibility of avenging his father and becoming a man. These new responsibilities push Hamlet’s already fragile sanity over the edge into madness. “Hamlet experiences anxiety both because of the dysfunction of previous masculine roles and because of his shames at their loss, a loss he holds himself accountable for” (Rosen, 63). Hamlet is instantly roused from a bout of depression at Horatio’s news of the ghost. Hamlet undoubtedly feels that this ghost might be able to put his mind at rest.
Hamlet: The King my father?
Horatio: Season your admiration for a while with an attent ear.
(I. 2. 200-02)
Hamlet’s desperation for answers however, makes him susceptible to the
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