Critical Thinking 102
18 December 2019
In the famous tragedy Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the madness that the character Hamlet displays is ultimately an effect as to what he describes as part of a ruse although it is often argued that it was not just a fake act but that he does truly become mad. Of course he is going through a lot of emotional stress as an effect with his mother remarrying his uncle, his father’s brother and whom he thinks murdered his father as well. Since his uncle married the queen, Hamlet is now not the king as he should be which ultimately affects him by driving him a little bit more into his madness that is brewing inside his soul. Ultimately Hamlet descends into madness because of his desperation to prove the death of his father was actually a plot of treason his uncle played out to steal the thrown. Throughout the play the audience can slowly see how the ruse of acting mad eventually causes six deaths as well as his own because of the depression, desperation, and hatred that builds inside his soul and mind.
Hamlet is going through what some might call an emotional crisis and because he comes from royalty as a privileged young man; this is somewhat too much for him to process in such a short amount of time. His mother remarried his Uncle, which in doing so allowed for the crown to be taken from her son, the rightful successor to the kingdom. Hamlet perhaps is not effected or even upset at the fact that he does not have the power to the kingdom but rather the fact that his father’s murderer is the one who goes unchecked while trying to keep Hamlet in check because of paranoia. Hamlet’s mother often sides with the uncle being as she married him shortly after the death of Hamlet’s father, which tends to trigger Hamlet in a way but also the new king does questionable things like asking Hamlet’s long time friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy on him so that they can come back to report back to King Claudius himself. “I like him not, nor stands safe with us/ to let his madness range” (3.3.1-2). The king is speaking to the friends letting them know of their true goals to accomplish before he sends them to England with his troubled nephew. He is already being paranoid, questioning Hamlet’s actions on whether he is truly crazy or if he is just trying to come up what ways to prove who is the murderer of the former King but either which way the king must know of Hamlet’s true intentions. Once Hamlet figures this out, not only does it affect him by being bothersome to him but also that it causes him to realize the hurtful truth that he cannot trust whom he considered friends and this adds to that hatred for his uncle and the desperation to prove that the new king is indeed the killer. Not feeling like anyone truly has your back can drive anyone into depression but add the fact that he is also dealing with desperation to avenge his father by going about it in a questionable manner of portraying to be a mad man and all this can really add up to cause anyone to lose their true self in all the games being played out in their mind.
Once Hamlet convinces himself that pretending to be a mad man was a good way to investigate the accusation because the ghost of his father visits him to tell him he needs to help figure it out so that his soul can escape some hellish purgatory, he was set on a trail he would not come back from. His devotion to only trusting himself and his plan to figure out the person guilty of killing his father causes six deaths: Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and his mother, and all because they believed he was truly affected by the depression and became a mad man. He stabs an eavesdropper behind a curtain, Polonius, after telling his mother that he swears he really is not crazy. After using Ophelia as a piece in his plot by one again pretending to be crazy cause she will not be with him, he then causes her to overload on all the emotional stress which ultimately cause her to decide to commit suicide. His two friends who join him after he is banished to England for causing trouble are beheaded after he switches the letters indicating to behead the men who bring it. After he comes back to Denmark and shows up at Ophelia’s funeral, which upsets everyone being that he killed her father by stabbing him for eavesdropping and that led her to kill herself because of all the emotional stress, he gets into a fight with Laertes, her brother. They then agree to duel where Laertes and King Claudius conspire to poison not only Laertes sword but also a specific challis before the duel begins. Hamlet ends up killing Laertes but also being poised by the sword Laertes was fencing with and by winning his mother calls for a toast to him, which is when she drinks from the poisoned cup. “Though this be madness,/ yet there is method in’t” (2.2.205-206). Polonius is thinking to himself, convinced of the prince’s madness and this is just as Hamlet wants everybody to believe. With all these killings due to his devotion to the plan of being a mad man to prove Claudius is a killer and really just a bad man altogether is proof of the fact Hamlet is losing himself in this journey of rectifying the pass.
In this tragedy a point that is often brought up is that the women in this play are victimized and taken advantage of all the men fighting for power or pride throughout the play. Hamlet gets questioned on whether his mothers action cause a hatred towards all women’s actions and if he uses his own personal experiences to paint the world as he wants. “Frailty, thy name is Woman” (1.2.146). While blaming his mother for her quick remarriage he quickly starts blaming all women, but he really dislikes the fact that he thinks his mother is so easily tempted to sexual temptations. When he demeans Ophelia he mentions that he thinks his madness is do to women because they disguise themselves with make-up and feminine ways of seducing men which Hamlet already has a problem with separating peoples disguises from reality. Hamlet ends up causing both of their deaths due to HIS madness but he does not see it that way because he believes it is their fault for this whole situation. Maybe his mother’s actions are to blame a little bit since she does quickly remarry to his uncle and it seems she does not ever ask if Hamlet was okay with that but to go throughout from there blaming his mother for not seeing that Claudius is the killer because she is too sexually tempted and then blaming women for just being who they are can clearly be signs he was deepening in his madness.
Through the play it is clear to see that Hamlet may have not intended to become a mad man and only portray one but somewhere got lost in the desperation to prove Claudius as the killer of his father. He convinces himself that a ghost stuck in purgatory was his father telling him to avenge him and hurt either by the lost of his father, the betrayal felt from his mother remarrying his uncle so quickly, or both he never looks back once convincing himself of his path. Either by using Ophelia to blame for the reason of his madness or by using a play to see how his uncle reacts to see if he shows guilty signs. The reason he becomes mad is because he is desperate and hurt which is usually the cause for most to lose their mind but also that when people convince themselves of something they can lose themselves in those beliefs. Although he found truth and got what he was seeking in the end, Hamlet’s desperation in doing so caused for so much death that he could no longer consider himself to have not lost control.