Hamlet In His Right Mind

Hamlet: In His Right Mind’s Eye Essay, Research Paper

Hamlet: In His Right Mind’s Eye

Crazy, or not crazy- That is the question. The matter of Hamlet’s so

called madness, has been an item of debate since the first performance, and will

probably be a continuing argument well into the future. I believe Hamlet was

not crazy, because he proves to be in complete control of his psyche in several

parts of the play. These three reasons are the main points of argument for

Hamlet’s sanity. His behaviors is only erratic in front of certain people, he

shows logic and reasoning in his plotting, and finally, actually admits to

several people to be only ?acting? mad. These are hardly the actions of a


First of all, the fact that Hamlet’s irrational behavior emerges only

in front of certain individuals shows he was only acting. He acts insane in

front of Polonius, Claudius, Gertrude and Ophelia, while remaining perfectly

normal in front of Horatio, Marcellus, the players and the gravedigger. Hamlet

convinces Ophelia of his madness by going into her room ?with a look so

piteous in purport as if he had been loosed out of hell to speak of horrors,?

(2.1.92)and grabbed her and examined her face. Then he let out ?a sigh so

piteous and profound as it did seem to shatter all his bulk and end his being.?

(2.1.106) After that incident, Polonius believes, that Hamlet’s madness ?is the

very ecstasy of love.?(2.1.115) Claudius is convinced, however, that that is

not the case. He believes that something else is troubling Hamlet. ?Love? His

affections do not that way tend; Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a

little, was not like madness. there’s something in his soul o’er which his

melancholy sits on brood? (3.1.176) After Hamlet kills Polonius, Gertrude

becomes completely convinced that Hamlet is ?Mad as the sea and the wind when

both contend which is mightier.?(4.1.7) With these characters convinced of his

madness, Hamlet is able to carry out several plans to avenge his father’s death.

The logic he uses in his plots is proof of a sane mind. He successfully

uses the players to reveal Claudius is the murderer by changing the play they

perform to reenact the murder of Hamlet’s father. ?Let the galled jade wince;

our withers are unwrung.? . When the murder scene is enacted, Claudius calls for

lights and storms out of the room. Claudius, knowing Hamlet is a threat, has

him sent to England along with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. the two bear a

letter that was to have Hamlet executed upon arrival in England. But Hamlet

takes the letter while they slept an changed it ?I sat me down, devised new

comission, wrote it fair.? Hamlet escaped on a pirate ship, and Rosencrantz and

Guildenstern did not know about the change of letters until they were the ones

that were killed. These actions required cold calculation and execution, two

things not found in madmen.

Finally, the most important fact showing that Hamlet was indeed not

crazy is that Hamlet admits to being sane several times. When speaking to the

befuddled Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, he cryptically reveals ?I am but mad north

by north west. When the wind is southerly, I know a Hawk from a Handsaw.?

(2.2.400) Although the two do not understand Hamlet’s quote, he’s actually

admitting he can distinguish between things that are different, and thus

perfectly sane. Hamlet admits his sanity more clearly in a Conversation with

Horatio and Marcellus. After the three receive a visit from the ghost, Hamlet

asks the other two to swear never to admit they know anything about Hamlet’s

condition ?never so help you mercy, how strange or odd some’er I bear myself (As

I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic of disposition)?(1.5.190)

In other words, no matter how crazy he acts, Horatio and Marcellus should

not let on to know he is only acting. Finally, the most prominent confession of

sanity is that of Hamlet’s to Queen Gertrude. ?..I essentially am not in

madness, but mad in craft.? Thus he admits once and for all, to be merely

acting crazy.

In conclusion, the possibility that Hamlet may have been mad is only

supported by his inability to act swiftly. Other than that, it is almost

indisputable that Hamlet’s madness was nothing more than an act, devised to

provide a facade for his plan to avenge his father’s death.


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