Hamlet Madness Essay Research Paper Hamlet is

Hamlet Madness Essay, Research Paper

Hamlet is mad, feigns madness or his pretense turns into real madness. Outline

arguments for all three and discuss. 1.Hamlet begins with guards whose main

importance in the play is to give credibility to the ghost. If Hamlet were to

see his father?s ghost in private, the argument for his madness would greatly

improve. Yet, not one, but three men together witness the ghost before even

thinking to notify Hamlet. As Horatio says, being the only of the guards to play

a significant role in the rest of the play, "Before my God, I might not

this believe / Without the sensible and true avouch / Of mine own eyes.

(I.i.56-8)" Horatio, who appears frequently throughout the play, acts as an

unquestionably sane alibi to Hamlet again when framing the King with his

reaction to the play. That Hamlet speaks to the ghost alone detracts somewhat

from its credibility, but all the men are witness to the ghost demanding they

speak alone. Horatio offers an insightful warning: What if it tempts you toward

the flood, my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles o?er

his base into the sea, And there assume some other horrible form Which might

deprive your sovereignty of reason, And draw you into madness? Think of it.

(I.iv.69-74) Horatio?s comment may be where Hamlet gets the idea to use a plea

of insanity to work out his plan. The important fact is that the ghost does not

change form, but rather remains as the King and speaks to Hamlet rationally.

There is also good reason for the ghost not to want the guards to know what he

tells Hamlet, as the play could not proceed as it does if the guards were to

hear what Hamlet did. It is the ghost of Hamlet?s father who tells him,

"but howsomever thou pursues this act, / Taint not thy mind.

(I.v.84-5)" Later, when Hamlet sees the ghost again in his mothers room,

her amazement at his madness is quite convincing. Yet one must take into

consideration the careful planning of the ghost?s credibility earlier in the

play. After his first meeting with the ghost, Hamlet greets his friends

cheerfully and acts as if the news is good rather than the devastation it really

is. Horatio: What news, my lord? Hamlet: O, wonderful! Horatio: Good my lord,

tell it. Hamlet: No, you will reveal it. (I.v.118-21) This is the first glimpse

of Hamlet?s ability and inclination to manipulate his behavior to achieve

effect. Clearly Hamlet is not feeling cheerful at this moment, but if he lets

the guards know the severity of the news, they might suspect its nature. Another

instance of Hamlet?s behavior manipulation is his meeting with Ophelia while

his uncle and Polonius are hiding behind a curtain. Hamlet?s affection for

Ophelia has already been established in I.iii., and his complete rejection of

her and what has transpired between them is clearly a hoax. Hamlet somehow

suspects the eavesdroppers, just as he guesses that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz

are sent by the King and Queen to question him and investigate the cause of his

supposed madness in II.ii. Hamlet?s actions in the play after meeting the

ghost lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy, yet that madness is

continuously checked by an ever-present consciousness of action which never lets

him lose control. For example, Hamlet questions his conduct in his soliloquy at

the end of II.ii, but after careful consideration decides to go with his

instinct and prove to himself without a doubt the King?s guilt before

proceeding rashly. Even after the King?s guilt is proven with Horatio as

witness, Hamlet again reflects and uses his better judgement in the soliloquy at

the end of III.ii. before seeing his mother. He recognizes his passionate

feelings, but tells himself to "speak daggers to her, but use none,"

as his father?s ghost instructed. Again, when in the King?s chamber, Hamlet

could perform the murder, but decides not to in his better judgement to ensure

that he doesn?t go to heaven by dying while praying. As Hamlet tells

Guildenstern in II.ii., "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is

southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." This statement reveals out-right

Hamlet?s intent to fool people with his odd behavior. This is after Polonius?

enlightened comment earlier in the same scene, "though this be madness, yet

there is method in?t."


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