Is Hamlet really crazy?

Acts 2 and 3 have been dotted by Hamlet’s rather crazy, incoherent speeches. One being where Hamlet calls Polonius a “fishmonger” which i found rather humorous. Anyways, with no context in the beginning, Hamlet’s crazy speech seem to come from meeting the ghost of his father who wants Hamlet to avenge him. I thought the pressure may have been too great for Hamlet and he kind of just went nuts. On the contrary, this is part of Hamlet’s plan to I guess deceive people and make them think that he’s too upset about his father to make him think coherently therefore they let their guard down. It worked for everyone else except for Claudius, who is the one that I believe Hamlet may be trying to deceive the most. He is the one who becomes more and more suspicious of Hamlet’s behavior, to the point where he thinks it’s plain dangerous for him to remain there in Denmark. Although I did wonder if Claudius wants to send him to England because he truly thinks that a change of scenery would be good or because Claudius suspects that Hamlet maybe becoming a threat to his kingship.

We find the answer to that question when Hamlet decides to have a play acted out that is very similar to the murder of King Hamlet in order to see if Claudius would react to it,which to me sounded completely ridiculous and I thought he wasn’t going to react to it but he did and he it was so obvious that it bothered him. Then this scene leads up to the scene where Hamlet is going to kill Claudius but decides not to because he sees him praying. I feel like this scene really highlights one of Hamlet’s (perhaps) fatal flaw, and considering this is a tragedy, it will most likely be what leads him to his death.

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4 thoughts on “Is Hamlet really crazy?

  1. caitoconnor13

    This is such a good point! As we discussed in class today, I really like the idea of exploring whether or not Hamlet is actually “crazy.” It is more of a conscious act so as to keep everyone off his tail. He might not be completely mad, but he is definitely paranoid, and he displays this soooo many times throughout, especially with his trust issues of nearly everyone around him(Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, Ophelia, to name a few). He is also really cunning and knows that R & G were sent by his uncle to keep tabs on him, giving him more reason to behave erratically, which I absolutely love seeing play out.

    Though it is smart of him and I am really of the opinion that he is the only one with any sense in this play at all, his play-acting does get him into a lot of trouble because him acting and spending all this time presenting himself as something he is not instead of taking action and actually following through with his really sound, valid and justified plan to kill Claudius. It is such a shame because while he could have been doing something to restore justice he was caught up in making people believe other things of him, and as a result pretty much everyone dies and he is left truly ‘idle’ and alone.

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  2. mcgovere1

    I liked your post! I find madness in Shakespeare’s plays to be sooo interesting. I do agree Hamlet has gone a little mad. You make a good point though, after your father dying, your mother marrying your uncle, then seeing your father’s ghost, who wouldn’t lose it a little? I certainly do think Hamlet is playing on the other characters belief that he is mad. We see evidence of that when he speaks about Ophelia to her father, saying things to confuse him, but really have underlying meanings. I think we have to wait for the rest of the play to unravel before we can make a final judgement on Hamlet’s madness.

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  3. n02392155

    I think the question of Hamlet’s sanity because it demonstrates the blur between performance and reality. Yeah, Hamlet says he’s just going to pretend he’s crazy, but you also have to question the sanity of that decision. I always thought if this play were written today, the author would make only Hamlet see his father, presenting even more ambiguity into the play

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  4. sabrinabyrne

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that Hamlet is trying to deceive everyone. I truly think he was starting to go a bit mad which led to people letting their guard down around him. I think Claudius is worried about Hamlet because he fears the truth will come out and he will lose the crown. I don’t think Claudius knows for sure that Hamlet knows who killed his father, but him planning to send Hamlet away is just a precaution.

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