The Validity of Hamlet's Insanity in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

828 Words4 Pages
The Validity of Hamlet's Insanity in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

One of the most asked questions concerning Hamlet, is whether or not during the play he was actually insane or merely acting. This issue is confusing because Hamlet states that he will act insane to exact revenge upon Claudius after he has met his father's supposed ghost. However, there are many times during the play where it seems Hamlet could not possibly be acting. But while it is possible to be sane and act insane, by definition it is impossible to be insane and act sane because an insane person lacks the ability to reason and tell the difference between right and wrong. Since Hamlet exhibited both these characteristics throughout the play, it is obvious that he was
…show more content…
I'll observe his looks," (2.2.623-625). Hamlet reasons that if the ghost is telling the truth, then Claudius will give away his guilt through his facial expression when he sees the play. No man who is insane could have thought up such a plan.

Hamlet again displays the ability to reason when he goes to talk to his mother about his plan for revenge. Hamlet reveals to his mother that he is aware of Claudius's attempt to send him to his death in England: "There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows, / Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd, / They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way, / And marshal me to knavery." (3.4.225-228). This shows that Hamlet is aware of what is occurring around him and he possesses the ability to analyze the actions of others and discover the secret plots that are lain against him. An insane man would have such sharp sense of the secret plans everywhere.

Hamlet's final display of his ability to reason occurs before his fencing match. Hamlet is talking about death with Horatio and about his eminent fight with Laertes:
" There is (a) special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is 't to leave betimes?" (5.2.233-238).

Hamlet states that death will occur when it wants to and there is nothing you can do about it. His statements
Get Access