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In the play "Hamlet," by William Shakespeare, the main theme is that followed through plans of revenge lead to tragedy. Throughout the play, several different people want revenge on somebody. Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, wants revenge on the current King of his country, his uncle, who killed Hamlet's father, the original King, in order to take the crown and marry the Queen. When trying to revenge his father by killing his Uncle, Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius, the father of one of his best friends Laertes. In turn, Laertes wants to revenge his father's death by killing Hamlet. Hamlet's father's arch nemesis, the King of Norway, was killed by Hamlet's father in battle. The King of Norway's son, prince of Norway, Fortinbras, therefore wanted revenge on Denmark. As the play begins, Hamlet is in a grieving period over the death of his father. What makes it worse is that only a few weeks after the horrible and untimely death, Hamlet's mother, the Queen of Denmark, remarries Hamlet's uncle, the deceased King's brother. "Thrift Thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables," Hamlet exclaimed to his best friend Horatio. The funeral of his father and the wedding of his mother and u In the process of revenging his father, Hamlet in some way caused the death of many innocent people. With the tragic loss of her father, as well as her recent loss of her relationship with Hamlet, she becomes crazy. Now, Laertes wants revenge for his father. If that does not work, they will have a glass of wine with poison in it that Hamlet could drink from. The lesson that can be learned from this is that thinking about revenge is healthy, but, pursuing it by trying to kill the person who you are revenging may not be the best idea. All of the events took place mainly because of the murder of Hamlet's father ended up in tragedy; the death of many more than the two who were involved, Hamlet and his uncle. And this, I take it, is the main motive of our preparations, the source of this our watch, and the chief head of this posthaste and rummage in the land. "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions," the King remarks; making that assumption after so many bad things happened to Ophelia in such a short period of time. The latter part of the theme is shown with Fortinbras. Ironically, Fortinbras doesn't seek out revenge on Denmark, and is the only one to live. Hamlet becomes filled with rage and decides that he must kill his uncle. "Now sir, young Fortinbras, of unimproved mettle, hot and full, hath in the skirts of Norway here and there sharked up a list of lawless resolutes for food and diet to some enterprise that hath a stomach in't; which is no other, as it doth well appear unto our state, but to recover of us by strong hand and terms compulsatory those foresaid lands so by his father lost. He sees the death of his father at the hands of Denmark and all throughout the play does not try to take action against them; even though he probably could have. The play "Hamlet," uses extremes to display the theme that the pursuit of revenge leads to tragedy
Revenge. Revenge causes one to act blindly through anger, rather than through reason. It is based on the principle of an eye for an eye, but this principle is not always an intelligent theory to live by. Young Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet were all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers. They all acted on emotion, and this led to the downfall of two, and the rise to power of one. Since the Heads of the three major families were each murdered, the eldest sons of these families swore vengeance, and two of the three sons died while exacting their acts of vengeance, revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet. There were three major families in the Tragedy of Hamlet. These were the family of King Fortinbras, the family of Polonius, and the family of King Hamlet. The heads of
each of these families are all slaughtered within the play. Fortinbras, King of Norway, was killed by King Hamlet; slain by sword during a man to man battle. "…our valiant Hamlet-for so this side of our known world esteem'd him-did slay this Fortinbras." This entitled King Hamlet to the land that was possessed by Fortinbras because it was written in a seal'd compact. Polonius was an advisor to the King, and father to Laertes and Ophelia. He was nosy and arrogant, and he did not trust his children. He was killed by Young Hamlet while he was eves dropping on a conversation between Hamlet and his mother. "How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!" King Hamlet was the King of Denmark, and Hamlet's father. He had killed King Fortinbras, only to be killed by his brother, Claudius. "…My offense is rank, it smells to heaven; A brother's murder…" Each of these events effected the sons of the deceased in the same way, it enraged them. Every one of the three eldest sons had one thing in common, they all wanted revenge for a slaughtered father. In the time in which this play is set, avenging the murder of a father was part of one's honor, and had to be done. All of the three sons swore vengeance, and then acted towards getting revenge for the deaths of their fathers. Young Fortinbras was deeply enraged by the death of his father, and he wanted revenge against Denmark because of this occurrence. Fortinbras wanted to, by force, regain the lands that had been lost by his father to Denmark. "…Now sir, young Fortinbras…as it doth well appear unto our state-but to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsative, those foresaid lands so by his father lost…" Claudius sends messengers to talk to Fortinbras' uncle, the new King of Norway. He forbid Fortinbras to attack Denmark, and instead convinced him to attack the Poles to vent his anger. "…His nephew's levies, which to him appear'd to be a preparation 'gainst the Polack; But better look'd into, he truly found it was against your highness…On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys, receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine, makes vow before his uncle never more to give the assay of arms against your majesty." Laertes found out about his father's death, and immediately returned home. He confronted the King and accused him of the murder of his father. Claudius told Laertes that Hamlet was responsible for his father's death. He then decides to kill Hamlet to avenge the death of his father. He and Claudius concoct a plot to kill Hamlet. Hamlet dies of wounds from the poisoned tipped sword Laertes used. "… Hamlet, thou art slain…The treacherous instrument is in thy, unbated and envenom'd…" Hamlet was deeply sorrowed by his father's death. He spoke to a ghost, and this ghost stated that his father's death was a murder, by the hand of his uncle, Claudius. "The serpent that did sting thy father's life now wears his crown." Hamlet was astonished, and then swore vengeance for his father's death. He then proceeded to try and prove his uncle's guilt, and then finally kills him while he himself is dying of poisoned wounds inflicted by Laertes during their duel. "The point envenomed too! Then venom, to thy work…Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, drink off this potion,-is thy union here? Follow my mother." This left the King dead, and his father's death avenged. The lack of thought used in exacting the revenge led to the deaths of both Laertes and Hamlet. Laertes planned with Claudius to kill Hamlet with the poisoned tipped sword, but they had not thought that the sword might be used against them. With Laertes believing the King's accusations that Hamlet had murdered his father, he was in a blind rage, and would not listen to Hamlet's explanation and apology. "I am satisfied in nature…to my revenge…I stand aloof…and will no reconcilement…But till that time, I do receive your offer'd love like love, and will not wrong it.". He fights Hamlet, and wounds him once with the poisoned tipped sword; but unfortunately,
their swords are switched, and Hamlet wounds Laertes with the sword. That is the wound by which Laertes dies. Hamlet had many chances to kill his uncle, but his rage outweighed his intelligence; and he chose to wait until the lord could see no good in Claudius, and then strike him down into a world of eternal damnation. "Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;…A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven." Hamlet waits until he can kill his uncle while he is performing a sin, unfortunately for Hamlet, the sin is the poisoning of his own son in law. Hamlet dies of his poisoned wound. Young Fortinbras regains his fathers land, without use of violence, or death to himself. Hamlet names him new ruler of Denmark before he dies, and Fortinbras regains all of his father's lost land, and becomes King of Denmark. Since the Heads of the three major families were each murdered, the eldest sons of these families swore vengeance, and two of the three sons died while exacting their acts of vengeance, revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet. As a theme, revenge was present in all parts of the play. It seems ironic that Claudius, Laertes, and Hamlet all died of the same sword. It is also ironic that the first the seek revenge against Claudius, Fortinbras, becomes King of Denmark. Revenge was the driving force behind three of the main characters of the play, for two it led to Hamlet: Revenge Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic play consisting of numerous deaths. The deaths that took place played a very important role in the unfolding of the play. In reading this play the reader can almost guess who was going to die.
A prince named Hamlet is the main character. Hamlet is a college student who one day planned to take over the throne in Denmark, but treachery would spoil all of Hamlet's plans. The King, Hamlet's father, was found dead in an orchard where he spent much of his time. All of the King's subjects, including Hamlet, thought his majesty died because of a snake bite. Hamlet was devastated when he learned of his father's death, but what made him more uneasy was the fact that Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, remarried so quickly to the brother of the dead King. The brother would be the one who would betray Hamlet.
Horatio, a loyal friend to Hamlet, was on night watch outside the castle, he told the prince of an incident when they saw an apparition who resembled King Hamlet. Hamlet came out the next night hoping to see the ghost. Sure enough, the ghost appeared and called to Hamlet, wanting to speak with him. The
spirit talked about how Claudius poisoned the King while he was sleeping, "Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,/ a serpent stung me² (1.5, 36) but it was not a snake that the ghost is referring to. The spirit wanted the prince to avenge his murder.
All was quiet in the kingdom until the start of Hamlet's supposed insanity. The Prince was with his mother talking when the prince noticed someone in the room. Hamlet thought it was Claudius, "How now? A rat? Dead for a ducat, dead! " (3.4,25) Indeed Hamlet killed someone; but it was not Claudius, twas Polonius who was slain.
Time had gone by and supposedly Hamlet was getting worse, so Claudius decided to send Hamlet to an asylum in England. Hamlet escaped and returned to Denmark and hid. While Hamlet was away, Ophelia, Hamlet's girlfriend, was acting strangely.
Although it was never admitted, Ophelia had become insane. It was her insanity that.
As Hamlet was hiding in the graveyard, a funeral procession approached him, but he did not know whose funeral it was. Hamlet finally found that it was Ophelia who had died. Even though Hamlet was hurt emotionally, Laertes was the one who was hurt the worst. Laertes had these worlds to say, "O treble woe/ Fall ten times treble on that cursed head/ Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense/ Deprived thee of.²(5.1, 246-248) Laertes blamed Hamlet for the deaths of Polonius and Ophelia and challenged Hamlet to a fencing dual which would be rigged by Claudius and Laertes. The end of Laerte's sword would be poisoned; as
a backup plan, if Hamlet would happen to win, the King would toast Hamlet's victory. Hamlet's drink would be poisoned, though.
During the fight, the queen drank the poisoned wine and fell to her death. Laertes landed a deadly blow to Hamlet; but in a scuffle, the swords exchanged hands and Hamlet also landed a vital blow. Laertes died there after a moment, but just before Hamlet died with Laertes, he stabbed the King with the cursed sword. Hamlet also made Claudius drink the poisoned wine. Before Hamlet spoke his last word, he asked Horatio to tell people what happened and give the throne to Fortinbras, a neighboring leader.
Just after Hamlet died, Horatio had these words to say of Hamlet, "Now cracks a noble heart, good night sweet prince,/ And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.² (5.2, 361-362) These famous words will be remembered for a long time.
Even though Hamlet dies he still accomplishes his mission of bringing down Claudius. Denmark now, will have a good King who will not commit any conspiracy against the people.downfall, and for the other it led to greatness Go to In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, two of the character's fathers are brutishly murdered. The first murdered character is King Hamlet who is supposed to be revenge by his son prince Hamlet. The second murder is Polonius who is supposed to be revenged by his son Laertes. Both Prince Hamlet and Laertes go to seek revenge for the death of fathers, however they will each use different methods to accomplish their deeds. Prince Hamlet has a meeting with the dead ghost of his father King Hamlet. King Hamlet's ghost reveals to his son, his murder by his brother Claudius. Hamlet is informed by his father that he needs to be avenged by the death of his brother Claudius. By this time Claudius has already ascended the throne, and married Hamlet's mother Queen Gertrude. Hamlet decides to take a passive approach to avenge his father. Hamlet first decides to act abnormal which does not accomplish much besides warning his uncle that he might know he killed his father. Later in the play a troop of actors come to act out a play, and Hamlet has them reenact the murder of is father in front of his uncle Claudius. The actors murder scene also make
Hamlet question himself about the fact that he has done nothing yet to avenge his father. Hamlet says " But am I Pigeon-livered and lack gall / To make oppression bitter, or ere this / I should ha' fatted all the region kites / With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain! ( Act II scene 2 page 84 line 577- 580 ). During the play Hamlet watches is uncle Claudius to see his reaction when the actors perform the murder scene. Hamlet plan works his uncle throws a fit and runs out the room, where Hamlet goes after him. When Hamlet catches up to his uncle his uncle is kneeling down praying, and Hamlet pulls out his sword and gets ready to kill him. But all the sudden Hamlet changes his mind because if he kills his uncle while he's praying he will go to heaven, and Hamlet wants him to go to hell. So hamlet postpones the execution of his uncle. The next confrontation does not happen till the end of the book when Hamlet escapes from his uncle's ill murder attempt on his life. Hamlet later sword fences with Laertes. All the sudden Hamlet's mother Queen Gertrude drinks a poison glass intended for Hamlet. When Hamlet is not looking Laertes stabs him with a poison sword then Hamlet takes hold of the poisoned sword, and stabs Laertes with it. As this happens Queen Gertrude dies from the poison drink. As Laertes lays down dying he reveals to Hamlet that his uncle King Claudius was behind it all, the poisoned sword and drink that has just killed his mother. Hamlet then in a fit of rage runs his uncle through with the poison sword. Hamlet has now finally revenged his father through much time then after his task is completed he finally collapses from the poison on the sword. Polonius is murdered by Hamlet when Polonius his discovered listening to Hamlet, and his mother's Queen Gertrude conversation . Hamlet unknowing of who the person behind the tapestry is, kills Polonius from where he was spying. When news of his fathers death reaches Polonius's son Laertes, he comes back with an entourage to seek revenge for his fathers death. In this conversation Laertes believes Hamlets uncle King Claudius is responsible for his fathers death. " How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with. / To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil! / Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! / I dare damnation. To this point I stand, / That both the worlds I give to negligence, / Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged / Most thoroughly for my father. ( Act IV scene 5 page 134 line 133-139 ) Laertes takes a more aggressive stand point than Hamlet Laertes is ready to kill the king right away thinking that he murdered his father. But king Claudius tells Laertes that Hamlet is the one who killed his father. King Claudius also finds out that Hamlet has escape the trap that he setup to get him murdered. So King Claudius sets up another plan with Laertes. This plan calls for Hamlet and Laertes to have a mock sword fight, but Laertes will be using a real poisoned sword. Laertes agrees with this, ready to claim Hamlets life for his father's vile murder. When the sword fight begins Hamlet is winning, but Laertes gets frustrated and stabs Hamlet when he is not looking with the poisoned sword. After Laertes stabs Hamlet, Hamlet then turns around and manages to take the sword from Laertes and stabs Laertes with it. Although Laertes dies first he accomplishes his purpose because Hamlet will die shortly from the poison on the sword. In this play Hamlet by William Shakespeare these two characters Hamlet and Laertes both seek to revenged their slayed fathers. Hamlet with his passive and scheming approach manages to kill his father's murder his uncle Claudius. Laertes with his direct, and forceful dedication slays his fathers killer Prince Hamlet. Altough Laertes took a much more direct approach than Hamlet wasting no time, they both however accomplished their goal but at the ultimate price of both their lives!
Theme Analysis of madness
The true nature of Hamlet's madness has been an issue of debate for scholars over the centuries. One theory is that Hamlet's madness was for his own protection. In the time period in which Hamlet would have lived, governments functioned through the usage of intricate spying networks. In Hamlet's Denmark, no one is permitted to go unwatched. Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Polonius are all sent to spy on Hamlet at various times. Polonius meets his death in the process. When Hamlet discovers the atrocity committed by his uncle, he wishes for revenge. In that time, it would have been quite natural to take matters into his own hands. In order to keep his plans secret; he cannot let on that he knows of the crime. Since he is constantly being spied upon and having his actions and words reported to Claudius, he must act enigmatically. Shakespeare puts Hamlet into a situation in which he must deal with the betrayal and murder of his father by his own family members. Communication of feeling is done solely in monologue or through the reports of a third party, or spy. Hamlet must use the player's performance to observe the reaction of Claudius because the topic of the death of King Hamlet is not acceptable discussion material. Therefore, Hamlet uses the performance to reveal the show that Claudius has been presenting to his subjects. The problem is, the revelation is made only to Hamlet. The people of Denmark know nothing of the ghost nor do they have any reason to suspect the reason for which the play is being presented. Hamlet's mistake is that he has now alerted Claudius that he knows of the murder. Claudius then can plot to rid himself of Hamlet, and therefore the danger of being found out. Following the presentation of the play, Hamlet loses his focus. He is unable to exact revenge against Claudius when the opportunity presents itself. Had he been able to kill his uncle while he was praying, the lives of Laertes, Gertrude, and himself might have been saved. Instead, Hamlet becomes lost in his own psychological cloud, which highlights his inability to bring matters to a swift end. Hamlet is a highly reactive character but does not ever seem to have a certain plan by which to accomplish his goal of revenge. Ultimately, the characters of Shakespeare's Hamlet become victims of the unwholesome situation of their own creation. Hamlet's Madness The issue of madness is one of major importance in this play. Is Hamlet truly mad, meaning insane? Or is he merely angry? Does he feign madness and use it as a guise? Or does he place himself so dangerously close to the line between sanity and insanity that he crosses it without even realizing it? Or is he so intelligent, cunning and in control that this is merely the playing out of his completely conceived and well-executed plan of attack? The patient is a thirty year-old male. He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, an introspective, grieving young member of the royalty, plagued by the recent death of his father, and the hasty marriage of his mother to his uncle, Claudius. He is capable of depressing anyone around him; the King and Queen attempt to pry Hamlet from his mourning. As relations become more strained between Hamlet and Claudius, his attitude becomes destitute. He begins to withdraw himself from everyone in the castle, and spends most of his time in solitude; he is often seen walking alone, talking to himself. Upon deeper investigation, it is discovered that Hamlet is seeing the ghost of the ex-King of Denmark, Hamlet’s father. The ghost becomes Hamlet’s counselor, guiding him through his everyday maze of depression and confusion. It is through the ghost of his father that he learns that Claudius, the new King of Denmark, is solely responsible for his father’s “foul and most unnatural murder” (I.v.26). He claims that he is told to seek revenge on his father’s murder by murdering Claudius. Hamlet sees the ghost at various times over the course of the play, appearing when he is in need of help.
Hamlet’s condition persists, gradually getting worse, as he becomes increasingly more aggressive and violent. His behavior towards Ophelia, the woman he loves, becomes erratic. He has violent outbursts towards his mother. He kills various members of the castle without explanation. Hamlet is clearly out of control, and is in need of a psychological evaluation. The most major of mental illnesses is schizophrenia, a psychotic illness, where the patient is out of touch with reality. In this disease, thoughts may be deranged or delusions without basis may arise. The individual tends to withdraw from their already little social contact. They become unresponsive and lose interest in normal activities. Emotionally, they can be irritable, angry, aggressive, and even violent at times. At other times, they can have an obsession with death, or voices can be heard or visions seen. The reasons for this change often appear unexplainable to relatives and friends. Some try to explain this new behavior as due to stresses, past or present, especially from interpersonal difficulties and mishaps. It is generally a devastating illness, troublesome to the patient and painful to the relatives and sometimes offensive to society. (Chong, 1) William Shakespeare’s literary opus Hamlet is an adventure story of the highest quality, a tale of the psychological trials of a man who is isolated from the society he must live in, and a portrait of a family driven to bloody and gruesome murder by one man’s lust for power (King, 1). In his essay “Hamlet: A Riddle in Greatness”, Louis Kronenberger states that “even on the surface, Hamlet remains among the greatest of unsolved psychological mysteries, and the one that has been provided with the most solutions” (1). The theme of madness in Hamlet has been one of great discussion; there is much conflicting evidence that can be found when trying to prove the validity of the claim to Hamlet’s true madness. The patient, Hamlet, prince of Denmark, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia due to his erratic, sometimes irrational behavior. Ever since the death of his father, King Hamlet, young Hamlet has been what appeared to be in a state of madness. This case study on Hamlet’s condition will cite many instances in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which the patient has acted in a schizophrenic, meaning mad, manner. Hamlet’s madness is the result of his fragile, overanalytical personality being confronted with a great deal of anguish. Hamlet’s madness is apparent even before he sees the ghost of his father. At the start of the play, Hamlet is shown to be “in the throes of bereavement” (“Though This is Madness, Yet There is Method in It.”, Online Archive, 1). The queen encourages him to look to the future, and to cease his grieving, for she believes it is false. Hamlet responds angrily to her suggestion: “But I have within which passeth show; these but the trappings and the suits of woe.” Hamlet’s strained relationship with Claudius is now evident; as he comments on his mother’s marriage, “It is not nor it cannot come to good” (I.ii.158), he already senses that it embodies much misfortune. This line sets a portentous prediction for the course of the play, as Hamlet struggles between emotion and sobriety in order to enact revenge on his father’s death. Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost of his father considerably changes his disposition, and his actions become more bizarre. He has the unique ability to communicate to his father by talking to a ghost; his friends must swear themselves to secrecy because of the threat that others may dismiss him as “mad”. Nevertheless, Hamlet’s actions after meeting the ghost do lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy, but never acts upon his feelings and loses control. From the beginning, Hamlet feels much pressure to speak out against the king, but lacks the strength to do so. This inner conflict is shown in his soliloquy in act two, when he states, “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” (II.ii.534). He confesses that he is a coward, and is torn between speaking out and actually taking action against Claudius. These new pressures cause much inner torment in Hamlet, and hint at the fact that he is mentally indisposed. Further evidence of Hamlet’s madness can be found in Hamlet’s encounter with his mother in act three, scene four. Hamlet has gone to see his mother in an attempt to force her to purge herself of her sin, her
hasty marriage to Claudius. As he attempts to make his mother see her wrongs, he screams at her: “Nay, but to live in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making love” (III.iv.92-95). This attack on his mother clearly shows that he has gone beyond merely playing the role of a moralist, for he has crossed the line between sanity and insanity with his wild and whirling words. After this attack on his mother, Hamlet furthers his irrational behavior by killing Polonius, who was standing behind the curtain in his mother’s room. As Polonius slumps out from behind the curtain, the queen exclaims “O me, what hast thou done?”. Hamlet replies, “Nay, I know not. Is it the king?” After the slaying, Hamlet appears to justify the killing in his own mind by stating that Polonius’ death is “almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother” (III.iv.30-31). Hamlet’s excuse for the murder is irrational, for he left Claudius a scene before, and did not take any affirmative action then. He continues to verbally attack his mother, and does not cease until his next meeting with the ghost. Hamlet is indeed acting madly, and without justification. As he continues the attack on his mother, the ghost appears in a nightgown. Hamlet appears to come back to his senses, his mood changes, and begs for guidance: “Save me, and hover o’er me with your wings, you heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?” The queen, oblivious to Hamlet’s hallucinations, cries out: “Alas, he’s mad!” (III.iv.107-109). The queen is now convinced of Hamlet’s psychosis, as she has what appears to be solid evidence that Hamlet is hallucinating and talking to himself. After Hamlet kills Polonius, he will not tell anyone where the body is. Instead, he assumes the role of a “madman” once again, speaking in a grotesque and ironic manner. The king asks him, “Now Hamlet, where’s Polonius?” Hamlet replies with a sarcastic remark: “At supper.” He continues, “Not where he eats, but where ‘a is eaten.” (IV.iii.16-19) Hamlet is clearly disrespecting Claudius, and making him look like a fool. Yet again, Hamlet does not act upon his plan to seek revenge of his father’s murder, but merely attacks Claudius verbally, as he did to his mother in a fit of rage. From the beginning of the play, Hamlet has a great fascination with death, another common symptom of schizophrenia (Goldman, 3). Despite being warned by his friends that following the ghost was a bad idea, Hamlet’s obsession with death was so great that he was prepared to risk all to follow. Taking such a risk, Hamlet organized a play that revealed the truth about his father’s death. This play was to serve as a strategy to force Claudius to admit to the killing of Hamlet’s father. Claudius’ reaction to the play served as solid evidence against himself; it was all Hamlet needed to be convinced that he was the true murderer. While he is struggling with the truth of his father’s death, Hamlet is also struggling with thoughts of suicide: “Devoutly to be wished; To die, to sleep...” (III.i.65). This soliloquy shows how Hamlet’s obsession with death turned on him, to the point where he is considering taking his own life. Another instance of madness in Hamlet is found in Ophelia, Hamlet’s true love. Before the tragedy began, Hamlet and Ophelia were already in love, and was shown through Ophelia’s words: “My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honorable fashion...and hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven” (I.iii.111-115). Ophelia’s madness was caused by the repression of their true love; Claudius wanted Hamlet removed, and Polonius was determined to not let Ophelia be caught in a harsh social class (Desmet, 2). This subplot even furthers the theme of madness in Hamlet, and plays an important role in the other characters’ rationalization of Hamlet’s madness. The appearance of Ophelia’s madness is sudden; Hamlet is unaware of her condition, preoccupied with his own mental deterioration and his lust for revenge. The repression of her love for Hamlet, his rejection of her, her father’s death, and Hamlet’s own mental incapacity all drive Ophelia across the line between sanity and insanity; in this madness, she takes her own life. Hamlet’s behavior towards Ophelia is inconsistent throughout the play. After her death, as he was visiting her grave, he jumped in the grave to fight with Laertes. During the fight, Hamlet states “Forty thousand brothers could not, with
all their quantity of love, make up my sum (V.i.250-253). This statement contradicts his words when she returned his gifts, stating that he never loved her. Hamlet’s madness does not reflect Ophelia’s true madness, his actions contrast them (Soon, 4). When Hamlet was sent to England, he carefully exchanged the letter that accompanied Guildenstern and Rosencrantz; the result was these men going to their death, because of Hamlet’s clever exchange. Even though they were not part of his plot of revenge, he had them killed, a demonstration of his madness once again. In the final scene when Hamlet is confronting Laertes, his thoughts and words turn again to the topic of madness: Was’t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet. If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away, Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it. Who does it then? His madness (V.ii.223-226). By these words, Hamlet is speaking of his true madness, which caused him to kill Polonius. He is apologizing to Laertes, and admits that his loss of control is due to his madness. In this final scene, Hamlet comes to terms with his own madness, and apprehends that it was his suffering and procrastination that kept him from killing Claudius sooner. He loses control over his revenge, and it is at this time that he finally finds the right opportunity to kill Claudius, and satisfy the wishes of the ghost of his father: “Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged; his madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy” (V.ii.227-228). The theme of madness in Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been a widely popular topic in the discussion of the play by both critics and readers alike. It is quite simple to see the reason why, since the play confronts us with evidence to prove the validity of the claim to Hamlet’s true madness, or, rather a view that the actions and words arising from the apparent madness is but a feigned “antic disposition” as proclaimed by Hamlet himself. (Soon, 1) The psychological case study of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, presents the theory that Hamlet did have a break with reality, and should be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a devastating disease that affects a mere 1 percent of the world’s population. The preponderance of evidence that has been displayed clearly points to the conclusion that Hamlet was indeed mad; the disease’s onset is in the young adult years, it is disabling, resulting in a period of productive time lost, and it has social effects on the patient, as well as his family. In Hamlet’s case, all criteria have been met, and therefore can be declared schizophrenic, or “mad.”