Analysis of Hamlet by William Shakespeare | Teen Ink

Analysis of Hamlet by William Shakespeare

May 5, 2008
By Anonymous

The idea of Hamlet being crazy in this story is very obvious to the audience. Hamlet portrays the idea of being crazy by acting as if he was mad. He contemplates suicide, and visits Ophelia with a disturbing appearance while taking advice from a ghost that claims to be the spirit of his father. Many people have been confused about the cause of Hamlet’s insanity, and strive to find answers to solve this problem. All of these acts done by Hamlet lead up to the question, “Is Hamlet really crazy or not?”

In the tragedy Hamlet, the character Hamlet has been accused of being mad even though it could have different meanings in this story. One meaning of mad could be that he is crazy for Ophelia because he loves her so much. He would do anything for Ophelia, but maybe he just shows it in a way that he thinks would be suitable and others would think not. “Mad for thy love?” “My lord, I do not know,” “But truly I do fear it.” (2.1 95-97)) In this scene, Ophelia is telling Polonius about her disturbing visit by Hamlet. Polonius thinks that Hamlet is crazy about Ophelia and loves her so much that he would do anything for her. Ophelia on the other hand, feels as if this is a bit weird and that he should stop as soon as possible. She told him that first he came in with his clothes not addressed to the living standards, then grabbed her arm and started shaking it, then thrusted his head back in sigh and let go of her arm and left without saying a word. Polonius asks if any of her letters or sayings to him could have caused this insanity, but Ophelia replies to Polonius with, “but I did as you command. I did repel his letters and denied his access to me.” (2.2 120-123)) This means that Ophelia could have made Hamlet crazy because she had been ignoring him for a while, and since Hamlet cannot live without her love, took it out on her in a disturbing way that made her feel uncomfortable.

Hamlet shows the audience that even though he might be mistaken for acting mad, he still has reasons for why he acts like this. In Act 1 Scene 5, Hamlet has his first encounter with the ghost. The ghost tells him that he is the spirit of his father, and that he needs to get avenge on his murder at the hands of King Claudius. “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. Murder most foul, as in the best it is, but this most foul, strange, and unnatural.”(1.5 31-34) Hamlet agrees to fulfill the ghost’s request, but now that he has taken on this task, the audience is going to think that he is even mad. This might not be the best decision on Hamlet’s part to keep his reputation alive, but he also has to avenge his father’s murder because King Claudius has taken the role of father in his life and killed his father while still getting away with it all. So even though that Hamlet has made a bad decision in this case, he is still doing some good.

Being mad is something that certain people cannot get rid of, and is used to their greatest advantages. In Hamlet’s situation, he ends up killing a major person who was part of Claudius’ scheme to kill him. Polonius was hiding behind a tapestry in Gertrude’s room, spying on Hamlet and Gertrude. As Hamlet enters the room, Gertrude was frightened that she yelled for help. Polonius echoed her cry for help and Hamlet, thinking that Polonius was Claudius, stabs him to death. “A bloody deed-almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.”(3.4 34-35) As shown in this quote, Hamlet is telling his mother that what he has just done is almost as bad as Claudius killing his brother and marrying his wife. He still doesn’t know though that the person he killed is Polonius and not Claudius. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell. I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.”(3.4 38-39) Hamlet is now telling the audience that he killed him for the better of everyone, and that he should be grateful that he is dead.

The idea of Hamlet being crazy in this story is very obvious to the audience. Hamlet portrays to the audience that even though he may act crazy, he is not, and he will do whatever it takes to convince them that he is innocent of the madness he has been encountered with.

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