In that individual with no proper idea

In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, there are many controversial themes that occur throughout the play. One of the most debated theme is whether or not Hamlet is actually insane or just pretending. Madness is a condition of the mind that eliminates rational thoughts, and it leaves that individual with no proper idea of what is happening around him or her. Hamlet is only pretending to be insane because he is perfectly sane around those he trusts (Horatio, Players, and Grave Diggers) and acts insane only around those he mistrusts (Claudius, Polonius, Ophelia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). Displaying his dignity, the ghost identifies himself as Hamlet’s father. Speechless, Hamlet wants to hear what the ghost has come to tell him, but that understanding comes at a terrible price. The words “revenge”, “murder”, and “sin” are emphasized, and they put physical blows to Hamlet’s ears. His father’s ghost tells the story of his death, and how he was not stung by a serpent as everyone had believed. The ghost soon goes off on a long story describing Claudius’s deceptiveness, describing how Claudius killed his father, married his mother, and challenges Hamlet to seek revenge for his murder. Being sworn to silence, Horatio and Marcellus finally find Hamlet, but they notice a change in him. Not spilling more information, other than telling Horatio that the ghost was being honest, Hamlet goes on to explain how he shall act crazy (put on an antic disposition) around the people he doesn’t trust. Hamlet uses this as a distraction, so he has more time to plan a way to get revenge and kill Claudius.Hamlet But come;   Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,   As I perchance hereafter shall think meet   To put an antic disposition on,   That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,   With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake,   Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase… (1.5.168-175)Hamlet is a lonely figure in the play, and he’s surrounded by darkness trying to find friends that he could trust. “It hardly seems an accident that Horatio’s very first words are “Friends to this ground”(1.1.14). Horatio will later prove one of the play’s best examples of friendship; his first word thus quite literally reflects his essential character” (Evans 90).    Now, Polonius, advisor to the king, is an odd person who seems to find the need of always knowing what his children are up to. Ophelia rushes in, frightened and distressed about her encounter with Hamlet. She was all alone sewing when Hamlet enters looking distressed, and pale. He doesn’t speak any words throughout the entire time he sadly grabs her wrist, stares at her face, and then leaves never breaking eye contact with Ophelia. From this scene Hamlet’s behavior can viewed two different ways. One way to view is that Hamlet’s behavior may be part of his “antic disposition.” But on the other hand, his behavior could be viewed as him losing trust in her. Although, Hamlet never speaks to her, so no one can really find a specific meaning. “If interpreted the first way, Hamlet may be using Ophelia as a pawn in his game of cat-and-mouse. If he feigns madness, surely she will report it to Polonius, who will then tell the king and queen” (Mategrano 75). And as Hamlet indicated, he will be putting on an “antic disposition” around those he mistrusts. Acting insane around the people he doesn’t trust helps his plan because they always will run to tell the king and queen. Ophelia My lord, as I sewing in my closet,Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac’d;No hat upon his head; his stockings foul’d,Ungarter’d, and down gyved to his ankle;Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;And with a look so piteous in purportAs if he had been loosed out of hellTo speak of horrors, he comes before me.Polonius Mad for thy love?Ophelia             My lord, I do not know;   But truly I do fear it. (2.1.77-86)Polonius then starts to make a dangerous assumption based off what Ophelia tells him; Hamlet is mad because of his love for Ophelia. He’s compelled to tell the King and Queen about his findings. But no matter how much Gertrude wants to believe, and how Polonius is determined to stand with the court, Claudius still is suspicious and alert and about his nephew’s odd behavior. “The king has good reason not to trust his nephew, because Claudius has a terrible secret. Discovery could cost Claudius his hard-earned criminal gains – his crown and his marriage – as well as his life” (Mategrano 93).Hamlet enters reading a book, and with permission Polonius speaks to him. The conversation goes from sarcasm to suspicion because Hamlet is giving Polonius riddles to confuse him. This will allow Polonius to question or verify that Hamlet is actually, indeed, insane. Being the fool that Polonius is, he plays into Hamlet’s trap. Polonius is a nincompoop, so he doesn’t realize that Hamlet is slandering him by calling him a “fishmonger.” Being upset, Hamlet’s words are filled hatred, bitter irony and puns, which Polonius fails to understand (Not surprising).Polonius Do you know me, my lord?Hamlet Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.Polonius Not I, my lord.Hamlet Then I would you were so honest a man.Polonius Honest, my lord!Hamlet Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes is to   be one man picked out of ten thousand.Polonius That’s very true, my lord. (2.2.173-180)Considering that Polonius is a nincompoop, he becomes uneasy of Hamlet’s words because of the strange wisdom they hold. He’s convinced that Hamlet is insane, but because of the strange meaning behind Hamlet’s words, Polonius doesn’t know what to think other than Ophelia is still the reason behind his madness. “He is the paradigm of grief, yet he expresses mourning by an extraordinary verve, and his continuous wit gives the pragmatic effect of making him seem endlessly high-spirited, even as he mourns” (Bloom 409).Now Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and step-father is a complex villain, just like the rest of Shakespeare’s villains. Villains in Shakespeare’s plays are only missing the absolute evil characteristic. Claudius is considered a villain, unlike Hamlet because he’s a sneak who lies and got away with murder. When Hamlet murdered Polonius, he commited it right in the open and suffered the consequences from his own conscience. King What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?Queen Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend…King                 O heavy deed!   It had been so with us had we been there.   His liberty is full of threats to all;   To you yourself, to us, to every one.   Alas! how shall this bloody deed be answer’d?   It will be laid to us, whose providence   Should have kept short, restrain’d, and out of haunt,   This mad young man: but so much was our love,   We would not understand what was most fit,   But, like the owner of a foul disease,   To keep it from divulging, let it feed   Even on the pith of life… (4.1.6-23)Hamlet has now succeeded in exposing the evil of the court, and he’s now a threat to Claudius. King Claudius still has the crown, but his world of a illusion is now becoming a disastrous reality. Since Hamlet is popular with the people of Denmark, Claudius has to act quickly in order to get rid of Hamlet without the people of Denmark knowing. He wants everyone to think that sending away Hamlet will help everyone get their thoughts together about Polonius’s death. “The lack of closure in its relentless scepticism, its relativizing, unstable discourse, have been blocked and frozen in order to provide the fixity necessary to recuperate it to a conception of essential subjectivity fully realized” (Bloom 146). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been called to the palace by the king and queen to sneakily figure out why Hamlet is acting mad. They were all childhood friends, so the queen thought it would be best if they pry into the reason of Hamlet’s madness. But because of Hamlet’s quick wit, he immediately realizes how suspicious it is that they’re showing up randomly just to talk and hangout with him. The humor of Hamlet talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is a relief, even though his reputation is somewhat dishonored by his crime. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern both are pathetic because of their inability to grasp that Hamlet’s madness is only an “antic disposition”. Hamlet That I can keep your counsel and not mine   Own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! what   replication should be made by the son of a king? Rosencrantz Take you me for a sponge, my lord?Hamlet Ay, sir, that soaks up the king’s countenance,   his rewards, his authorities. But such offers   do the king best service in the end: he keeps them,   like an ape, in the corner of his jaws; first mouthed,   to be last swallowed: when he needs what you have   gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you   shall be dry again.Rosencrantz I understand you not, my lord.Hamlet That you must teach me. But let me conjureyou, by the rights of our fellowship, by theconsonancy of our youth, by the obligation of ourever-preserved love, and by what more dear a betterroposer could change you withal, be even and directwith me, whether you were sent for or no! (4.2.11-21)    Hamlet compares them to a sponge because they’re absorbing the benefits from the king and queen for doing this favor, but once it fails, their usefulness will disappear. They won’t have anything because it’ll be all forgotten about after their honor has been surrendered. But in reality, Hamlet is just angry, and swears up and down that they are nothing. “The peculiar centripetal pull of anger and sorrow that the speech depicts remains as the central undercurrent of that preoccupation…” (Andrews 506).    Hamlet is told that a traveling troupe of players is on its way to the court. This is where everyone learns Hamlet enjoys theatre and a fan of its drama. This being new information about Hamlet’s personality tells about the man that Hamlet used to be when his father was alive. We can see that Hamlet is a loyal son, a lover, a scholar, and has quick-wit, and now we all know he is a fan of theatre. Once the players enter Hamlet forgets about his antic disposition for a moment until Polonius enters the room. After listening to the Player perform a small scene, Hamlet commands that Polonius treats them as if they are royals because that’s how people should be treated. Talking to himself, when no one is around is when his “antic disposition” drops, and he starts talking about loyal the Player is for crying during the scene about a person he never knew. While Hamlet himself, can’t even carry out revenge for his murdered father, like he promised his father’s ghost. Hamlet  ‘Tis well; I’ll have thee speak out the rest   soon. Good my lord, will you see the players well   bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for   they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time:   after your death you were better have a bad epitaph   than their ill report while you live.Polonius My lord, I will use them according to their   desert.Hamlet God’s bodikins, man, much better; use every   man after his desert, and who shall ‘scape whipping?   Use them after your own honour and dignity:   the less they deserve, the more merit is in your   bounty. Take them in.Polonius Come, sirs.Hamlet Follow him, friends: we’ll hear a play   To-morrow. (2.2.523-538)By himself he reveals his thoughts about his failure to act on revenge he promised his father. From there on out, he accused himself of being a coward. Hamlet comes up with the plan to use a play (The Mousetrap) to prove that Claudius did murder his father by seeing his reaction during the play the players perform. Hamlet has Horatio watch from the side to see and to prove that Claudius’s conscience is kill”Inevitably he is drawn to the preexisting pattern of the familiar revenge plays: life imitates art” (Rose 138).The gravediggers (clowns) act as foils to the protagonist’s because of their behaviors, status, and beliefs. The gravediggers always work in a world of death, but they are very much alive and honest about their approach to life and death, which is refreshing. They dismiss the corrupting effects of the court, although the lives that the nobles live are full of gossip and drama, it’s never distracting for the workmen. Which is why Hamlet trusts and enjoys bantering with the gravedigger because they have a deeper understanding of life and death, being at the bottom of the social ladder. Hamlet ” … I will speak to this fellow. Whose   grave’s this, sir?”First Clown “Mine, sir…”Hamlet “I think it be thine, indeed; for thou liest in’t.”First Clown “You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore it is not   yours; for my part, I do not lie in ‘t, and yet it is   mine.Hamlet “Thou dost lie in ‘t, to be in ‘t and say it is   thine; ’tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore   thou liest.First Clown ” ‘Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again   from me to you.”Hamlet “What man dost thou dig it for?”First Clown “For no man, sir.”Hamlet “What woman, then?”First Clown “For none, neither…   One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her   soul, she’s dead.” (5.1.120-137,139-140)Hamlet becomes intrigued by all the riddles and quick wit that the gravedigger uses during their conversation to keep the humor and the wisdom of the young workman. Hamlet’s perspective of life and death is so limited compared to the gravedigger based on the intellectual aspect.”Instead, the gravedigger helps reveal a Hamlet tragically flawed in his inability to recognize how a major way of knowing restricts both his love and his philosophy” (Hunt 141).Whether or not Hamlet is insane or sane, is the big question that everyone asks themselves when reading the play. Throughout, Hamlet shows that he’s capable of thinking and saying rational thoughts, which would be difficult for an insane person. Therefore, he is perfectly sane because if he were insane he would have no rational thoughts at all and would be able to kill Claudius without any remorse and without needing a plan to confirm that Claudius did kill his father. Hamlet is only pretending to be insane because he is perfectly sane around those he trusts (Horatio, Players, and Grave Diggers) and acts insane only around those he mistrusts (Claudius, Polonius, Ophelia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).


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