Hamlet Insane or Insane

Amrit Maraj May 27, 2011
Period 3
A major debate concerning one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, “Hamlet the Prince of Denmark” is whether or not its main character Hamlet is doing as he says which is “putting on an act of madness” or has all the madness surrounding actually driven him insane. As seen throughout the play, Hamlet experiences what some may identify as mood swings, going rapidly at times from one emotion to another. Mood swings like those are shown in various dialogs and soliloquys across this play. I believe that after learning the truth about his father’s death, King Hamlet, the young prince used this idea of acting insane to learn who he can really trust and believe. However, after a series of unfortunate events along with the overwhelming pressure to avenge the murder of his father, the young princes act became his reality.
Towards certain people he acts certain ways. Hamlet appears to act mad when he hears of his father’s murder. No one knows if his madness is a show like he says or real like it seems. It seems as if there are two Hamlets in the play. One that is sensitive and an ideal prince and the insane uncivilized Hamlet, who from an outburst of passion and rage slays Polonius with no feeling of remorse and then talks about lugging his guts into another room. This is why I say Hamlets madness is less than madness and more than pretend. Hamlet says he is just acting mad when he states, “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (II,ii,380-381). Admitting so easily that he is only pretending to be mad, this would suggest that he is comfortable with his madness. Hamlet also seems to be generally comfortable with acting crazy in this case. It is puzzling that at this point Hamlet is comfortable with acting, but not with the role that he said he would play earlier of killing Claudius. This brought on his madness in the first place. Hamlet’s behavior throughout the play especially.