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Michael J. DeCiscoMiss Given World Lit10 January 2018Hamlet The Question of SanityAsking someone if they have ever seen someone seemingly go insane, albeit temporarily, from an extreme emotion might draw the response such as ,”Is the Pope Catholic?” The same could be said if someone were asked about Hamlet’s state of mind in the play of the same title, Hamlet. In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet a young man, by the name Hamlet, is recovering from the loss of his father and ends up on a quest of revenge to kill his uncle, and fathers murderer. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s state of mind changes rapidly, resulting in many readers believing that he has gone insane, however that is not the case, and while he may go temporarily insane, he snaps back quickly and ultimately ends his life a sane, and tormented man.During acts one and two of the play Hamlet the main character of the play, a young man named Hamlet has questionable sanity; however, he is still sane and calculated in his endeavours. The play begins with Hamlet’s mother being remarried, within two months of his father’s death, both upsets and disgusts him. One point that emphasizes Hamlet’s reaction comes about during his first soliloquy, “A beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer”(I.ii.151-152).  The evidence provides further emphasis on the fact that it was the speedy marriages fault that Hamlet is so depressed, as shown by him saying that an animal that can not think, would mourne longer.  Hamlet’s reaction is completely normal to the reader, as it is normal for someone to grieve for longer than two months. Hamlet is also depressed, during soliloquy, but his father’s death and his mother’s lack of reaction. Second major stress on Hamlet is his contemplation of suicide which options those delete does I do Hamlet’s reaction is completely normal to the reader, as it is normal for someone to grieve for longer than two months. Hamlet is also depressed, during soliloquy, but his father’s death and his mother’s lack of reaction. Second major stress on him what is his contemplation of suicide which also shows his depression and is further highlighted by the lines, “Or that the everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self slaughter!” (I I.ii.131-132). He still sane, at least to the reader, because he still knows his religion and is where of its rules. Later on as him talks to the ghost he discovers that his uncle killed his father, which enrages him. The rage Hamlet feels is shown clearly by the words he says, “So, uncle, there you are, now to my word,” (I.v.110).The reader understands his rage and helping arrange he would be, meaning they know he is not insane. As hamlet vowels vengeance, he also is afraid of failing his father, which he shows his fear when he says, “It is ‘Addieu.addieu. Remember me. I have sworn’t”(I.v.111-112). This distinct fear of failure demonstrates to the reader that, though he may be acting irrationally depending on the rate or believes in ghosts or not, but this fear of failing at something sworn is a very sane rational fear. Hamlet is also depressed by his father’s parting words and request that he does not forget as Hamlet states, “Yea, from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records”(I.v.98-99). Even as hamlets reaction is to a ghost, a reader understands the fear for getting a dead loved one. As the story continues, Hamlet is confused by the actors ability to cry over nothing, but his inability to cry about his father’s death. He demonstrates his confusion as he says, “Had he the motive and the queue for passion that I have? He would drown the stage with tears”(II.ii.537-538). Hamlet is not insane, at least in the reader’s eyes, as the reader is able to understand that he would be distraught by his father’s death is confused that he could not cry.Throughout Act three Hamlet is sane, and as the act continues, he becomes temporarily insane and eventually passes upon an opportunity to kill Claudius. In beginning Hamlet is confused by his emotions and the option of him committing suicide weighs heavy on him. While he contemplates aloud, he cannot decide if he wants “to be” to live, or if he wishes “not to be”to die (III.i.57). While the shows a heavy emotional burden Hamlet is still very sane as he is distraught, and raged, and confused all because of his father’s death, and the ghost claim of murder.He also considers the idea that if he dies he will dream. While Hamlet’s actions during the play appeared to be completely random he is very calculated as he says enough to appear crazy, while many times calling out the King as scared of “false fire”(III.ii.251). The fact that hamlet keeps the king in sight shows his sanity, and coherent action throughout the play. Soon after the play, Hamlet has a chance to kill Claudius but since he is “purging” his soul he does not as he’s trying to ensure the king goes to hell , rather than to kill him as he prays. Immediately after this decision, Hamlet’s mother calls for him and as they talk, Hamlet hears a “rat” which he proceeds to stab to death, and say that he is dead for a “Ducat”(III.iv.24). This one reaction shows Hamlet has gone temporarily insane; however, it begins to show the insanity slowly encroaching on his thoughts. After stabbing Polonius the “rat”, he proceeds to proclaim how he wishes that Gertrude was not his mother “were it not so”(III.iv.24). This action shows his continued temporary insanity, As he tries to convince his mother of her wrongdoings. After hamlets proclamation that he wishes his mother were not his mother, and with bots the ghost, and his mother thinks he went insane asking why he looks at “vacancy” and talks to air(III.iv.118).Through the duration of Act five Hamlet shows some spots of temporary insanity but he recovers well each time. The first major incident of his temporary insanity is when Hamlet fights with Laertes over Ophelia’s grave in which he show a drop in decision making skills when he jumps into the grave “Hamlet the Dane” before he fight Laertes(V.i.234). The reader understands that he has gone temporarily insane as the same aggressive and impaired decision making skills were shown in the earlier scene with Gertrude. His temporary insanity dies down a tad after the fight but he is still slightly insane because of seeing Ophelia’s body even going as far as admitting he would be buried alive with her, and let the dirt and stone be piled upon them until it reaches “the burning zone” or heaven(V.i.261). Hamlet soon after talks to Laertes and tells him that in his own unstable state of mind his fighting Laertes which he compares to shooting and arrow “o’re” a hose and hitting his brother(V.ii.229). This statement proves that Hamlet believes he went temporarily insane since he himself is admitting that he went temporarily insane he could very well have lost control. This self reflection Hamlet does shows that he has regained his sanity once more since one must be sane to be able to recognize that they are insane. Throughout the scene where Hamlet kills Claudius his actions are those of a sane, but enraged, person just after Hamlet forces Claudius to drink the poison wine he knows he is dying “adieu” or good-bye is spoken as Hamlet lays dying from his poisoned sword wound. As Hamlet’s final moments come to a close he is talking with his good friend Horatio and is telling him that if only he had more time he could tell Horatio a thing or two before before he begins to close his life “I am dead”(V.ii.333).Throughout the portion of Hamlet’s life that was depicted in the play he was a mourning boy, and enraged youth and finally a tormented man, resigned to his fate. While in some points of his life he was temporarily insane, he rebounded well and prove that one may walk a fine line on the edge of insanity, and that while one may come closer to the edge a strong will and lots of determination one will be able to retain their sanity through even the most trying of circumstances. This may seem like complete fiction but the reader should and needs to know that everyone has their inner demons, and it will always come come down to the strength of the human will. Someday the reader maybe face with a situation as mentally, physically, and/or emotionally exhausting as the one Hamlet faces throughout the play, and then they will understand the will power it took Hamlet to remain sane. To conclude, even though Hamlet maybe a work of fiction, it still shows a realistic and even somewhat relatable tale of loss, pain, and the true power of human will. Works CitedShakespeare, William, and John C.. Crowther. No Fear Shakespeare: Hamlet. SparkNotes, 2003.


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