What Lead Hamlet to Madness?

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Throughout the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, there’s a lot of evidence to show that Hamlet went absolutely insane due to his father’s death and his mother’s new marriage. Hamlet wasn’t always right in the head as some people say, but regardless, he lost his sanity in the process of getting vengeance. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, it is clearly evident that Prince Hamlet is overcome with “madness” due to his father’s murder and other malicious actions taken against him.

In the beginning of the play, it is evident that Hamlet is overcome by the appearance of his dead father‘s ghost. He quickly finds out that his father was murdered by King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius, who has allegedly taken the throne by marrying his sister-in-law. Throughout the play, it is shown through multiple devices of language that Hamlet sees his father and he’s the only one that appears to see him. The Guards of Hamlet’s castle see the figure of his father in armor in the beginning of the play, and they quickly notice and tell him that they have seen your father upon them.

Hamlet soon began to see his father’s figure, and it tells him that in order to ensure his father’s entrance to heaven, Hamlet must kill the person that murdered King Hamlet, his own flesh and blood. Hamlet was taken aback by this news and eventually realized why his own father’s brother had married his mother. Claudius’ motive behind killing King Hamlet was to take control of the throne and acquire power from the people around him. Hamlet soon enough became insane and started to think of every possible way to kill Claudius and fulfill the figure’s wish

Throughout the play, there are many quotes to prove that his father’s ghostly figure drive Hamlet insane. Although it doesn’t reveal why, Hamlet did in fact go crazy: “The Poet with consummate art has so portrayed the abnormal actions of a demented mind, and so truly pictured all the traits of genuine madness, even in its minutest symptoms, that a real madman could not enact the character more perfectly” (Blackmore). Hamlet saw figures which showed him how he could avenge his father’s death and steal the throne from Claudius.

After King Hamlet was murdered, Claudius proceeded to marry his widowed sister-in-law Gertrude. Gertrude was solely interested in being the queen and is presumed to have not even loved King Hamlet in the first place. Even though she said she would never stop loving him even after death, she married her dead husband’s brother a few months later. Hamlet felt he needed to claim the throne. Although no one in Hamlets family supported him taking the throne, he still fought.

His family supported Claudius, which only enraged Hamlet more. Although no one would want the person who murdered their father to take over for King Hamlet and marry King Hamlet’s widowed wife, Hamlet may have taken it a few steps too far: “When alone, he observes, ‘My father’s spirit in arms I all is not well; I doubt some foul play (Crawford).’”. This quote from Crawford explains how even when Hamlet was alone, he states that seeing his father figures spirit was mentally challenging for him.

Several unfortunate events occur in Hamlet’s life which rose questions about Hamlet’s sanity. His uncle killed his father, then remarried his mother. Everyone is against him except his best friend, Horatio, and the love of his life, Ophelia, said she doesn’t love him anymore. Hamlet claimed his behavior to Ophelia ‘discloses an interesting feature in mental pathology, — the change which insanity brings over the warmest affections of the heart, whereby the golden chains wrought by love and kindness are utterly dissolved, and the forsaken and desolate spirit, though it continues among men, is no longer of them (Shakespeare).’

Hamlet had many incidences that mentally challenged him. No one understands Hamlet’s mindset and the extent of his challenging life in a very short time period. Although Hamlet had issues with his step dad and his mother, he also had a dilemma with his love, Ophelia, who was forced by her father to tell him that she didn’t love him anymore and to give the love letters he gave her back to him.

This all occurred when he saw his father’s ghost in armor and his mother remarried his deceased father’s brother. After these events, it’s not outlandish to question Hamlet’s sanity. Throughout the play, you can clearly see that Hamlet is not in a right state of mind through the way he acts toward other people. He later doesn’t even care about his feelings towards Ophelia. Her death was the only thing that both made him have a touch of reality and lose his final string of sanity.

Hamlet’s state of mind is insane, and he has proven that everything he has went through has changed his mental health. Throughout the play, we have seen everything that he went through. Shakespeare depicted Hamlet’s father’s death, his mother marrying his uncle, seeing his father’s ghost and telling him to kill his uncle, and his girlfriend breaking up with him and telling him she doesn’t love him anymore.

Works Cited

  1. Blackmore, Simon Eugene. “The Madness of Hamlet: An Analysis.” Best Essay Writing Service Reviews, 28 Oct. 2006, https://studyscanner.com/the-madness-of-hamlet-an-analysis/.
  2. Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear. Boston R.G. Badger, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet/ghostarmed.html >.
  3. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet/hamletsanity.html>

Cite this paper

What Lead Hamlet to Madness?. (2021, Jun 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/what-lead-hamlet-to-madness/

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