Hamlet’s Madness: is Hamlet insane (sanity and insanity) Essay

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Task: Write an argumentative essay on the suggested topic
Essay Topic: Hamlet’s Insanity of Sanity
Essay Type: Argumentative Essay
Length: 3 pages
Formatting: MLA
Requirements: Write an argumentative essay dwelling on Hamlet’s insanity.

hamlet madness
A watercolor of Hamlet, Act III, Scene iv: Hamlet makes a pass through the arras. by Coke Smyth


Insanity is presented in an ambiguous way in the Shakespearean drama, Hamlet. Hamlet’s insanity can be deemed to be an act of deception designed to draw the attention away from his wary activities as he tries to gather incriminating evidence against his brother. As he reveals to Horatio his wicked plan to feign insanity, it becomes apparent that he is planning to revenge for his father who appears to him in a ghost-like form. However, like most Shakespearean dramas, the author does not mention whether Hamlet’s actions are actually crazy in his attempts to feign madness According to FreeDictionary.com, insanity infers to state of a serious mental illness.

Hamlet’s mental instability is exemplified th rough a series of impulsive behaviors and cases of mental instability which are proven by those around him.Hamlet’s impulsive behavior is apparent when he kills Polonius, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz before attempting to jump into the grave during their funeral. On the one hand, Shakespeare attempts to establish that the protagonist is indeed a noble individual is demonstrated when Hamlet expresses his regret for his antagonism with Laertes when he realizes that the latter was driven by anger in his quest for vengeance. On the contrary, those around Hamlet can attest to his impulsive behavior through such instances as when he stabs Polonius, oblivious that he is harming people that are on his side.

Accordingly, Hamlet’s behavior drastically alters the perception of the characters around him in regards to how they relate and talk to him. However, it is ambiguous to ascertain whether Hamlet’s insanity is real or feigned even as his actions creates even more confusion in court. Thus, Hamlet’s mental condition cannot be ascertained due to the complexity of the matter and the numerous ways through which his actions can be conceptualized. Contrarily, it can be argued that Hamlet is sane as he only seems to act crazy among certain people whereas he demonstrates normal prince like behavior. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s insanity is feigned in order to obtain vengeance for his father’s murderers. The fact that he kills those who deliver Claudius’ letters despite the fact that they were just obeying the king’s orders best illustrates his level of irrationalness and impulsiveness (V. ii. 48). His sanity as the prince is also questioned when he fights and jumps into the grave during the murder of his three victims.

Not only are Hamlet’s actions impulsive but it can also be proven that he also has an unstable mental condition. This is demonstrated by his lack of remorse for murdering Guidenstern, Polonius and Rosencrantz. Further, he reveals no sense of guilt for executing two of his friends. The fact that he also puts to death the king’s messengers indicates that he has no regard for servicemen devoted to the king as believes that those who appear not to be on his side deserve to die. Hamlet’s impunity is further demonstrated by the fact that he feels no guilt for putting Polonius to death accidentally. The antagonist’s metal instability is also indicated by the fact that he constantly and solely sees is father’s ghost. Hamlet’s lack of remorse despite murdering three people reveals that there is uncertainty on his state of insanity (III.iv.140).

After making his resolve to avenge his father’s death, Hamlet’s actions cause the characters around him to question his sanity. He particularly acts irrationally around Polonius and Ophelia who are appalled by his behavior. His mother Gertrude assumes that Hamlet is just upset due to his father’s death and her marriage to Claudius. Ophelia concludes that her friend has lost sanity during a recent confrontation in which she declares that his noble mind is o’erthrown (III.i.150). This illustrates that even Hamlet’s spouse had noticed that he was going crazy. Polonius’ skepticism also leads him to eavesdrop on his friend to confirm his irrationalness. Although Gertrude appears to care for his son throughout the play, Hamlet’s words and actions leads her to question Hamlet’s actions. Hence, the protagonist’s friends, subjects and relatives question his mental stability.

From the foregoing, it can be argued that Hamlet was capable of feigning madness; he progressively becomes more impulsive throughout the play which culminates in the death of eight people including his close friends and king’s messengers. However, it can also be argued that the protagonist chooses to act mad in order to attain vengeance over his father’s murderer. Thus, Hamlet chooses to act mad in order to have an advantage over his foes.


In conclusion, this ssay identifies madness as a consistent theme throughout Shakespeare’s Hamlet which mostly centers on the protagonist, Hamlet. While it can be argued that the appearance of the ghost leads Hamlet and other characters to question reality, his own sanity is put into test for believing in ghosts and his obsession for avenging his father’s death. All in all, Hamlet acts mad throughout the play and the primary issue of insanity in this literary work is whether Hamlet suffers from a mental condition in the end. Examining Hamlet’s later acts can perhaps reveal whether he is indeed mad.


Madness of Hamlet on YouTube

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