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Thread: Hamlet... Sane or Insane?

  1. #1

    Hamlet... Sane or Insane?

    I was supposed to do an in class essay on this question, however we didn't end up doing it. While putting together my own arguement, I found that it could have easily gone either way. In the end, I chose to argue sane. Here is my arguement:

    3 main points:
    1. Any verbal or physical hints of insanity were tools used by Hamlet to trick everyone into believing that he is mad, in order to mask the change in his personality due to his knowledge of his fathers murder.
    [eg. almost every discussion with Claudius, Polonius, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]

    2. When not in the presence of specific characters, Hamlet displays signs of intelligence, and rational thinking. The ability to follow through with his well thought out plan (even though he loves to procrastinate) further demonstrates his intelligence.
    [eg. Hamlet's quick thinking used to save his own life on board with the pirates, getting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern executed instead]

    3. His change in personality can be justified by the recent events in his life.
    [eg. Hamlet's fathers death (mourned for only a brief period of time) and his mothers quick marriage to Claudius]
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  2. #2
    Sry... I forgot to add something...

    I was wondering if anyone had any strong arguements to back up the other side to this question (hamlet = insane).
    If so, please join in.
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  3. #3
    Hero Admin's Avatar
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    I always thought it was an act.

    Hamlet isn't insane, he is very clever.

    Ophelia now, she is insane.

  4. #4
    What do you think it was that made her go insane. The loss of her love, the loss of her father, or the fact that she is a complete doormat to all men in her life?

    p.s. Or, do you think it has something to do with the creepy passes made at her by Leartes?
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    Hero Admin's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Registered User
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    My English class was asked the same thing and the results were mixed. I personally thought that he started out as an act, but soon doubted his own mind which turned himself insane. The part in the play in whcih Hamlet ponders the idea that the Ghost is actually a spawn of the Devil(or something to that effect) that was posing as his late father in an attempt to create more chaos. Also the remorseless murders of his friends Rosencratz and Guildenstern. We have all been mad at our friends at one time or another, but not insane enough to have them put to death. Not only does he commit the murders, he does not give it a second thought. Then he murders Ophelia's father(I forgot his name) without knowing who was behind the curtain that he stabs. His emotions and the perpetual act mixed together I believe make Hamlet insane.

  7. #7
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    Long Beach, CA
    i think i would have to plead temporary insanity.

    Because his father was killed, mourned for so little a time, and life (for him) came crashing down around him, his mind wandered slowly if not unwillingly to the insanity table.

    his mental state was the product of circumstance and action.

  8. #8
    L'artiste est morte crisaor's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    I choose the 'sane' option. He never shows any sign of insanity, except when he wishes to do so, to mislead his enemies. I'll admit that Hamlet's is plagued by doubt throughout the entire play, but he's never crazy (although at some point he may wish to be), and he knows what he's doing the whole time. The actions he performs may be perfectly catalogued as irrational, but he sees clearly through them. There's a purpose to everything Hamlet does in the play.

  9. #9


    Hamet is sane becuz in the whole book hamlet was pretendin... but teh real thing is tht he wasnt crzy.. Ophelia was actin crazy bcuz of the love of hamlet. She knew that hamlet dontlove her no more, so she sucide. sHe had all these mixed feelings about the love relationship. And she was goin crazy like this.
    Hamlet is sane he is not insane! im doin a essay on this one rite now for mah english homewrk project.

  10. #10
    And if you do your essay in the style you just presented, "like that, yo man!", I'll be utterly eager to read it! :)

    As a matter of a fact, I had thought there is no doubt about the fact that Hamlet has been sane and far too intelligent...

    Yet, methinks, had he not died in the last scene, he might have gone insane due to all the pressure on him.

  11. #11
    i think he was a very intelligent man to be able to decieve so many people. but dew to his circumstances he slowly went insane and i don't blame him. he had had a hard life and his mom didn't really care. he was strong but not strong enough i think he just slipped into insanity slowly and peacefully. that way it seems that he hadn't but in fact he was. but this is probably just stupid rambiling. :oops:

  12. #12
    One must remember that Shakespeare was very poetic (i.e. extensive use of rhyme scheme and metaphors) which seems upon the brink of insanity itself, whether it be said by Hamlet, Richard III, Henry VIII, ect. as for his actions, it is most probable that it was a hoax, so that he might look insane in the eyes of his murderous uncle. However, there is sufficient argument against this, so one might call it one of the most contriversial arguments inivloving Shakespeare's plays to exist.

  13. #13
    Hamlet is no fool, and is not insane. he plays the game well; maybe a little too well, for readers like us to catch every intention. we can see he thinks about his actions with great amount. and why is it that crazy people are often really smart? because you go insane by constantly thinkng; you become depressed by viewing life and the world around you. you reason and analyze to the point where you become lost in it. we can see hamlet doing this, but give him more credit, he's had some crap in his life, and although he thinks continually, i do not think he ever, even slowly and peacefully, freak_grl, became insane. :o

  14. #14
    Playing a game or not, he did, in fact contemplate suicide aloud in private, thus being the meaning of the famous line 'To be or not to be...'
    However I will agree that he is not stupid and does play the king and queen quite well.

  15. #15
    When I read "Hamlet" at 24, I realised that I had staged a similar "insanity" before my mother when I was 18. My mother rather ungallantly tried to break my relationship with a girl that I loved. For some reason she wasn't able to bring herself to remonstrating with me about that relationship. Instead, my mother secretly met the girl's mother and made a scene which she thought would spur me to have it all out with her. The next day I found out about that terrible havoc my mother caused in my girl's family and it distressed me very much. Then, not knowing what to do, for I wished neither a row with my mother nor ignoring the matter altogether, I staged that "insanity" which in my case resulted in my very strange behaviour (in my mother's point of view) that lasted for at least a week. I never mentioned to her that I know about what she did. My mother was baffled and her plans for the upcoming row (I'm sure she had thought out the quarrel beforehand) got ruined. I also derived some satisfaction from my playing Hamlet (although I didn't know who Hamlet was at that time) because I saw that my behaviour was torturing her.

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