Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there are two characters that display qualities of insanity. They are Hamlet and Ophelia. Although they both appear to be mad at times, their downfall (or supposed downfall) is quite different. Ophelia's crazed characteristics show up and intensify quite rapidly, until she is ultimately led to suicide. Her madness seems definite, and it is never questioned. The insanity or sanity of the main character is an arguable question. The issue can be discussed both ways, with significant support to either theory. Certainly, Hamlet has many reasons to lead him to becoming insane, because of the pressure and emotional strain that he is suffering from. This might be enough to cause the character to become…show more content…
He proclaims, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't" (II.ii.200-201).

Although it is clear that Hamlet originally intends to purposely put on an act of being crazy, it is still questionable whether or not he truly does become as such when his problems escalate further. It may be conjured that Hamlet is deranged because of the mention of continuous appearances of his father's ghost. It could be argued that sane people do not see ghosts. However, in the beginning of Hamlet, there were three additional witnesses of the ghost. The three witnesses are Barnardo, Marcellus, and Horatio, all men who seem to be perfectly sane otherwise. Therefore, it does not seem logical that Hamlet be considered truly mad on the basis of the fact that he sees a ghost.

One scene that appears to be particularly important in the argument of Hamlet's madness is the first scene in the third act. Hamlet acts very strange after Ophelia attempts to return his gifts. Previously in I.iii., Hamlet's love for Ophelia was displayed through Ophelia's discussions with her father and brother. In the latter meeting of the two, Hamlet harshly rejects Ophelia. This move is most likely a hoax, considering his previous declarations of love and dedication, as well as the fact that he proclaims his infinite love for Ophelia when at her grave in V.i. Perhaps Hamlet suspects that someone is
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