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Hamlets State Of Mind Essay

This section contains 235 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)

Summary: In William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," Hamlet's state of mind spurs out of control in the wake of his father's death and his mother's hasty remarriage. Hamlet's rash behavior worsens through his failed attempt at revenge, as Hamlet mistakens Polonius for the King and kills him. These events drive Hamlet further toward insanity.


In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet's state of mind has spurred out of control, leading us to believe that he is truly insane. Early on, we can infer that Hamlet appears distraught over his father's death and his mother's hasty remarriage. Despite these hardships, Hamlet still appears sane although he is deeply mourning and even contemplating suicide when he says "O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,/Thaw, and resolve itself into dew,." As the play advances, however, Hamlet's sanity diminishes, most noticeably following the meeting with his father's ghost. Hamlet's run-in with Ophelia is one of the first indications of his madness. In Act 3, Scene 1, Hamlet lashes out against Ophelia saying "Get thee {to} a nunnery" and "If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague/for thy dowry." Hamlet's mad behavior is further displayed during his confrontation with his mother. Upon entering the room, Hamlet expresses his disgrace in Gertrude, saying "You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife,/And (would it were not so) you are my mother." Following this, Hamlet proceeds to kill Polonius who he had mistaken for the King. Because he has yet to get revenge, Hamlet's state of mind becomes even more distorted. Whether he is insane or merely carrying out his father's will is unclear. However, Hamlet's rash behavior strongly suggests that his father's death coupled with his failed revenge has driven him to insanity.

This section contains 235 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)

In his third soliloquy (act 2, scene 2), Hamlet recriminates himself for his lack of courage, which prevents him from avenging his father's murder.

After watching an actor make a bold, grief-stricken speech over an imaginary loss, Hamlet derides himself as "a rogue and a peasant slave." (2.2.506) He wonders if he is nothing more than a coward because he should have already "...fatted all the region kites/With this slave’s offal." (2.2.540-541) Hamlet concludes that...

In his third soliloquy (act 2, scene 2), Hamlet recriminates himself for his lack of courage, which prevents him from avenging his father's murder.

After watching an actor make a bold, grief-stricken speech over an imaginary loss, Hamlet derides himself as "a rogue and a peasant slave." (2.2.506) He wonders if he is nothing more than a coward because he should have already "...fatted all the region kites/With this slave’s offal." (2.2.540-541) Hamlet concludes that he must be cowardly; otherwise, he would have slain Claudius, the "bloody, bawdy, villain" (2.2.537) who has killed King Hamlet.

While scolding himself for his inaction, Hamlet finally has an idea upon which he can act. He recalls that guilty people have watched plays so cleverly presented that they are "struck to the soul" (2.2.554) by the drama, and their consciences are so profoundly stirred that they confess their crimes. This idea inspires Hamlet to have the actors "play something like the murder of my father" (2.2.558) so he can watch Claudius's reaction. Resolved that "the play's the thing" (2.2.566) and it will reveal Claudius's conscience, Hamlet moves on his plan. Once he has this proof, Hamlet can justify killing Claudius.

Earlier in this scene, Hamlet speaks with Polonius and pretends to mistake him for "a fishmonger." He acts as though he is mad, making absurd remarks. However, some of these remarks hide truths, and Polonius notices that there is a method to Hamlet's madness. Hamlet's pretense of madness rouses suspicions.