The Sanity Of Hamlet


Method in the Madness: Hamlet’s Sanity Supported Through His Relation to Ophelia and Edgar’s Relation to Lear
In both Hamlet and King Lear, Shakespeare incorporates a theme of madness with two characters: one truly mad, and one only acting mad to serve a motive. The madness of Hamlet is frequently disputed. This paper argues that the contrapuntal character in each play, namely Ophelia in Hamlet and Edgar in King Lear, acts as a balancing argument to the other character’s madness or sanity. King Lear’s more decisive distinction between Lear’s frailty of mind and Edgar’s contrived madness works to better define the relationship between Ophelia’s breakdown and Hamlet’s "north-north-west" ...

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evidence, while Ophelia’s breakdown is quick, but more conclusive in its precision. Shakespeare offers clear evidence pointing to Hamlet’s sanity beginning with the first scene of the play.
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 ...

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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 ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 1/28/2006 04:33:48 AM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1806
Pages: 7

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