Theme of madness in hamlet
The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is, perhaps, one of William Shakespeare s most popular works. One of the possible reasons for the intense recognition of this play is the way Shakespeare uses Hamlet to illustrate the complex workings of the mind, and how one must use deception in order to deceive others to get to the truth. In Hamlet, Shakespeare incorporates the theme of madness to serve a motive. In fact Hamlet was not crazy, but used the madness as a deception to achieve what he wanted. Hamlet himself says, “That I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft.”
He thought about everything he was doing, and everything he was going to do. Hamlet did in fact act like he was mad, just so he could follow through on his plan to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet acted like he was mad because he did not want to outright kill Claudius, because he would probably go to heaven, and Hamlet wanted to make him suffer like Claudius had made his father suffer. Hamlet also knew that he could not go around telling people that Claudius killed his father just because a ghost told him so. Therefore, instead Hamlet masterminded a plan that made the King, Claudius, show his guilt and then he would have proof that Claudius did in fact kill his father.
Hamlet’s obsession with his mother’s remarriage to his uncle contributes to his insanity. In numerous occasions, Hamlet will make a comment about the little time that it took for his mother to move into his uncle’s bed. Sarcastically, Hamlet states, “What should a man do but be merry? For look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within’s two hours”.
Unlike Hamlet, Laertes has developed a different kind of madness, a madness that is controlled by revenge. When Laertes is talking to Claudius, Laertes gets so much revenge building up inside him against Hamlet that Laertes now wants to cut his throat. Laertes behaviour is caused by the sudden death of his father who was without a due ceremony, and his sister who has been driven mad, has contributed to the madness that is being built up inside Laertes. With Claudius being the puppet holder and Laertes being the puppet, Claudius turns Laertes into a savage beast to avenge for his fathers’ death; perhaps this is what the Claudius has planned all along. Laertes has a form of madness that is increasing because Laertes knows that he has the capabilities and motivation to act on what he believes on.
Ophelia has a unique form of madness unlike Hamlet s and Laertes because it a mixture of love and hate. Ophelia s madness is brought on by her lack of being unable to demonstrate any maturity in trying to cope with her losses and in return can only inflict her madness on the court.
In conclusion, Hamlet was not mad. In fact, he was smart and swift thinking. Skilfully, he predicted the consequences of his actions, in such a way that the people around him would be led to believe that he was mad. Actually, he was making a big plan to revenge his father’s murder by killing his Uncle Claudius. Where Laertes was very influential by others and had no real control over the mental state he was developing by the sway of Claudius. Ophelia was the most innocent victim of all because she was the side affect of everyone else s actions and had no idea that she was mentally disintegrating. It can be noticed that within each of these three people there can be no reassurance on what the affect they may have on others due to their mental state in public.
In the play (Act 3 scene 3 page 167) Hamlet sees Claudius praying and Hamlet draws his sword to kill him, but he stops and thinks about what would happen if he killed Claudius while he was praying. Hamlet says:
“And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I (revenged.) That would be scanned:
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
Why, this is (hire) and (salary,) not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread,”
(Act 3 scene 3 page 167)
This quote is about Hamlet’s father not going to heaven because he could not confess his sins before he died. Hamlet could not kill Claudius while he was praying because he would go to heaven. He doesn’t kill him, but rather he decides that he’ll wait and kill him later so he can suffer like his father did. This proves that Hamlet is not mad because if he were mad he would not have thought about the consequences of killing Claudius; he just would have done it right then and there.
Later (Act 3 scene 4 page 183) Hamlet is talking with his mother and the ghost while Polonius is hiding behind the curtain. Hamlet thinks that it is Claudius who is spying on him and his mother. He draws his knife and stabs into the curtain killing Polonius. Then Hamlet says to his mother in (Act 3 scene 4 page 183)
“Make you to ravel all this matter out
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. “Twere good you let him know,”
This quote from Hamlet to his mother is where he confesses to her that he is not mad and is only pretending.
After everyone found out about Polonius’s stabbing, they thought that Hamlet’s behaviour was an act of insanity. No one really paid attention to Hamlet’s insane actions because they thought that he was mad over the lost love of Ophelia. This was a good cover up for Hamlet because it was a total accident that Polonius was stabbed since the intended victim was Claudius.
In conclusion, Hamlet was not mad. In fact, he was smart and swift thinking. Skilfully, he predicted the consequences of his actions, in such a way that the people around him would be led to believe that he was mad. Actually, he was making a big plan to revenge his father’s murder by killing his uncle Claudius.