Has Hamlet Gone Mad?
Hamlet was the prince of Denmark, son of the assassi-nated King Hamlet and
Queen Gertrude, and nephew to Claudius. Hamlet, (during the play) goes through
some very troubling situations in which he seems to act in an insane manner.
But I am convinced that he was “not in madness, but mad in craft.” I also
believe that he was a man of high moral standards, in fact higher than most of
the people in Denmark at that time.
Hamlet was bombarded by many situations at the start of the play which
his psyche had to deal with. He was very up-set (as any other person would be)
with his father’s murder and, at the same time, his mother’s hurried remarriage.
HAMLET: “Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing
in her galled eyes, she married. O, most wicked speed, to post with suck
dexterity to incestuous sheets!” He then heard from his good friend Horatio
that they had seen a ghost during the night watch. Hamlet was shocked at the
description of the ghost and he said to him-self “My father’s spirit-in arms?
All is not well. I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!” Hamlet’s
per-sonality underwent severe stresses due to the situations en-countered and
consequently, he had to find a way to solve the apparent problems.
In Act 1, Scene 5, Hamlet while talking to his father’s ghost was urged
to avenge the foul murder, but to leave his mother out of it as her guilt would
be punishment enough. GHOST: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Leave her to heaven, and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge to prick and
sting her.” The ghost of the previous king gave Hamlet the solution that he
needed. The ghost also be-seeched Hamlet to “Let not the royal bed of Denmark
be a couch for luxury and damned incest”. This showed that Ham-let was
required to not only restore his honor, but to re-store the honor of all of
Denmark as well! The added burden upon his shoulders caused him to clear from
his mind all but what was necessary to solve his dilemma. This would have
allowed him to think in a rational and sane manner. It also explains why later
he is unable to pursue his relationship with his true love Ophelia, and instead
tries to make her disinterested in him so that again, he may concentrate on the
tasks athand. Hamlet used his cunning when he devised a plan to see if his
uncle really was a killer or if he was merely being tricked by the ghost. He
got the company of players that were passing through to perform a modified ver-
sion of a play in which a king was murdered by his brother. Then he watched his
uncle during the performance and noticed Claudius getting uneasy and finally
leaving. This confirmed that what Hamlet was going to do was the right thing.
I feel that his double checking of the situation further en-forced the fact that
he was sane and in every way normal. (Where an insane or merely enraged person
would be impulsive and act fast without thinking.)
On his way to solving his predicament, Hamlet was met with many
obstacles that he had to overcome. Such as when Claudius (using Hamlet’s feign
madness as an excuse), told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that Hamlet was a
threat and that they were to take him to England as soon as possible. However,
Hamlet being the clever man that he was, figured out the King’s plot and
reversed it so that the treacherous Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were executed
Hamlet, having possessed so many qualities and demon-strated rational and
wise thought time and time again, was in my opinion totally sane and perhaps
even brilliant in some ways. I conclude that Hamlet was more than simply a
troubled young man and, because of his decency and his un-derstanding of his
culture’s expectations, acted as he did.