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Alas he’s mad’ (3,4,106)How true is Gertrude’s statement regarding her son’s state of mind through out the

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In Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, many people look at the play in different ways. Many portions of the play support his loss of control on actions, while other parts uphold his ability of dramatic art. The issue whether or not Hamlet is mad can be discussed in both ways. Throughout the play there are indications that support ‘Hamlets madness’ 1. While other evidence would suggest that his ‘madness is a disguise to murder Claudius’ .


In Act 1 Scene 4, Hamlet meets the ghost for the first time ‘alas poor ghost’ , it is thought by Hamlet that the ghost is his ‘father’s spirit’ 4. The apparition informs the prince that he was killed ‘by a brothers hand’ 5, thus meaning Claudius. Clearly at this moment Hamlet is not feeling cheerful, as he has been given the news that his uncle murdered his father, but yet, he greets his friends buoyantly and acts as if it was good news rather than bad news, ‘What news my lord?’ 6 ‘O, wonderful’ 7. This is the first glimpse of Hamlet’s ability to manipulate his behaviour to achieve effects.


It is established in Act 1 Scene , that Hamlet has feeling for Ophelia, but Hamlet changes his reaction to her, as Claudius and Polonius hiding behind a curtain. His complete rejection of her love, ‘I love you not’ 8 is not his true feelings, but Hamlet suspects of them so attitude towards Ophelia is that of rejection. This shows that Hamlet can control his true feeling to his own benefit. In the same way Hamlet can trick the other characters in to believing he is mad and this can then be an ‘excuse for killing the Claudius’ .


He is instructed by the ghost to ‘Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder’ 10 by killing his ‘uncle’ 11. But yet this supposed ‘madman’ 1 insists on proving that Claudius is guilty before murdering him. Would an insane human not attack the king directly, this would show that Hamlet is sane and that Gertrude’s statement is untrue.


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‘The rugged Pyrrhus, like th’ Hyrcanian beast’ 1. Hamlet recites the words of the play that he has composed. Still unsure whether his uncle was responsible for the death of his father, ‘Hamlet decides to test his uncle’s guilt’ 14. The play was devised to show the ‘emotions that Claudius has when one brother kills another’ 15. While the actors are performing the play in front of Hamlet, he shows the actor how to do their A TITLE=Click for more information about A TITLE=Click for more information about A TITLE=Click for more information about A TITLE=Click for more information about job STYLE=background-color #f0f000; HREF=http//search.targetwords.com/u.search?x=577|1||||job|AA1VDwjob/A STYLE=background-color #f0f000; HREF=http//search.targetwords.com/u.search?x=577|1||||job|AA1VDwjob/A STYLE=background-color #f0f000; HREF=http//search.targetwords.com/u.search?x=577|1||||job|AA1VDwjob/A STYLE=background-color #f0f000; HREF=http//search.targetwords.com/u.search?x=577|1||||job|AA1VDwjob/A, he tells them how to act. The acting ability that the prince poses would entice the reader to believe he is acting to avenge his father’s death.


Hamlet himself denies being mad on numerous occasions.


King How is it that the clouds still hang on you?


Hamlet Not so, my lord, I am too much in the


sun. 16


When asked by the king whether he is depressed, he swiftly denies it and replies by saying that he is too much in the sun. ‘ It is not madness That I have uttered’ 17 again Hamlet abjures the idea of him being mad. In secrecy Hamlets admits to his mother that he is not mad, this would seem to show that ‘Hamlet is only acting mad 18’


‘Alas he’s mad’ 1 Gertrude’s famous statement regarding her sons state of mind, would show that the ‘characters within the play consider Hamlet to be crazy’ 0. With the characters believing that he is mad, Hamlet now can murders his uncle and blame it on his madness.


The mother calls her child ‘mad’ 1 when she sees him talking to the air, but Hamlet believes that he is talking to his father’s ghost. People would believe that the ghost is a fragment of his imagination. But if he had seen the ghost in private the argument about his madness would have greatly improved. But he was not the first character to see the ghost, in the first scene we learn about the guards and Horatio seeing a ghost. Thus believing it to be of the former king, the three men notify Hamlet; therefore meaning the ghost was not a fragment of Hamlet’s imagination.


‘And draws you in to madness’ before going off to see the ghost, Hamlet is warned by Horatio that the ghost may cause him to go mad, this may be where Hamlet got the idea to act insane.


Hamlet swears Horatio and Marcellus to secrecy about the Ghost, ‘Never make known what you have seen tonight’ he adds that they can not so much as hint that they know anything, ‘however strangely he behaves in future. ’4


‘I perchance hereafter shall think meet/


To put an Antic disposition on’ 5


The statement shows Hamlet telling Horatio and Marcellus about his plan to put on ‘anti disposition’ 6.


While talking to the Ghost, Hamlet was instructed to kill Claudius, Hamlet unsure whether Claudius did kill his father waited till he got further proof. He sets up a play to get the proof he acquires.


After the death of her father it was quite obverse that ‘Ophelia’s madness was true’ 7, comparing it to Hamlet puts his questionable madness in a more favourable light. Since that it is agreeable that Ophelia was mad, we can use it as a guide to judge wheather Hamlet is mad. All Ophelia can do after learning about her father’s death is sing. Hamlet’s madness is only apparent in the presence of certain characters. When Hamlet is in the presence of Horatio, the player and gravediggers his actions are of a sane person. While in the presence of Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern his actions are of someone insane. Ophelia’s madness is in the presence of all the characters. This would show that ‘Hamlets madness is only acted. 8’


Ophelia’s breakdown in to madness and her inability to cope with the death of her father and Hamlet rejection is dealt with her death. There is little evidence against her madness compared to Hamlet’s intelligent plotting.


Hamlet is able to make smart comment to Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Throughout the play he insults these characters with his smart comments. The comments show that Hamlet has had some kind of planning for these comments.


However there is evidence that does suggest that Hamlet is mad, he kills Polonius rashly, a sane person would not just kill anyone for standing behind the curtain.


‘A man (beggar) may fish with the worm


that hath eat of a king, and eat of the


fish that hath fed of that worm.


When the king questions Hamlet about the whereabouts of Polonius body, he replies with the statement above. The quote means that the worms are eating him for supper, and this is what a deranged human would say.


‘To be, or not to be’ 0 some interpretations of this soliloquy show ‘Hamlet pondering suicide’ 1. As Hamlet is talking to himself, without the presence of any other character, these are his true feeling. This is further evidence that shows he is mad. Ophelia’s madness is never in doubt she ponders suicide, so if she is mad Hamlet is also mad.


The sequence of tragic moment that occurs in this play would leave Hamlet mad. Hamlet’s father has died and then his mother marries not only his uncle but also the person who killed his father. And then his father appears in a form of ghost and instructs Hamlet to kill his uncle.


Hamlet throughout the play Hamlet seems to do thing that convinces everyone bar Horatio that he is mad. ‘Alas he’s mad’ , Gertrude makes this statement believing that Hamlet is mad, Polonius ‘believes Hamlet’s madness to be due to Ophelia rejecting his love.’ With so many characters considering Hamlet to be mad, it would indicate that he is mad.


Hamlet can be compared to King Lear 4 because in both plays there is one character that is truly mad and one only acting mad to serve a motive. Ophelia in Hamlet and King Lear in King Lear these character are unquestionable mad, they provide a balancing argument to the questionable madness of Hamlet and Edgar.


Just as Ophelia’s madness is believe able due to the death of her father and her rejection from Hamlet, King Lear’s madness accounts for his frailty of is mind.


Hamlet was based on a ‘Denmark prince called Anleth’ 5. His uncle, Feng, killed his father, Howendil. Then Anleth’s mother married his uncle. The true story of Hamlet would suggest that Hamlet was acting mad to avenge the death of his father, ‘as Anleth acted like an idiot to confuse folks’ 6.


‘Shakespeare was constrained by his plot to have Hamlet pretend to de delusional. 7 This a secondary source would suggest that Hamlet is sane. As the writer claims that Shakespeare was forced to have Hamlet pretend to be delusional. And that his plot and the main concept of the play ‘was to have Hamlet acting mad to avenged the death of his father’ 8.


Throughout the play there are signs that show that Hamlet is mad, but when compared to Ophelia, his supposed madness is put in doubt. It would seem as though Hamlets madness was a disguise to kill his uncle. Hamlet’s madness is only apparent in the company of certain characters this would put his supposed madness in a more unfavourable light. Hamlet’s ability to act and to manipulate his behaviour would seem to show that Hamlet sane. All these factors would result in the reader believing that Hamlet is sane and that Gertrude’s statement is untrue.


1. www.clicknotes.com/hamnavl/madness.html (8/1/00)


. www.pathguy.com/Hamlet.htm (8/1/00)


. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,4)


4. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,)


5. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,74)


6. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,10)


7. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,11)


8. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (,1,11)


. www.angelfire.com/oh/pretzel/ (8/1/00)


10. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,5)


11. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,41)


1. www.vaxxine.com/megs/hamletmad.html (8/1/00)


1. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (,446)


14. www.pathguy.com/Hamlet.htm (8/1/00)


15. ibid.


16. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,,66-67)


17. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (,4,14-4)


18. www.angelfire.com/oh/pretzel/ (8/1/00)


1. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (,4,106)


0. www.clicknotes.com/hamnavl/madness.html (8/1/00)


1. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (,4,106)


. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,4,74)


. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1,5,14)


4. MARTIN, Stewart, Hamlet Literature Guide, (Letts Explore, 15)


5. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (1.5.17-180)


6. ibid.


7. www.angelfire.com/oh/pretzel/ (8/1/00)


8. ibid.


. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (4,,7-8)


0. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14), (,1, 56)


1. www.clicknotes.com/hamnavl/madness.html (8/1/00)


. SHAKESPEARE, William, Hamlet, (Oxford University Press 14) (,4,106)


. MARTIN, Stewart, Hamlet Literature Guide, (Letts Explore, 15)


4. SHAKESPEARE, William, King Lear,


5. www.clicknotes.com/hamnavl/madness.html (8/1/00)


6. ibid.


7. www.pathguy.com/Hamlet.htm (8/1/00)


8. ibid.


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