Deception Through One Mans Madness - Shakespeare's Hamlet

Deception Through One Mans Madness - Shakespeare's Hamlet

The actions and thoughts of Hamlet could be thought of as insanity or a way to use insanity to deceive the ones whom he was trying to get revenge upon. Hamlet only gets the responsibility of revenging his father’s death because of his father’s ghost that appears and said that he would have to revenge his “foul and most unnatural murder”. Hamlet not only dealt with his father’s death but also because a man he hates because of his actions and personality married his mother (Mabillard, Amanda). The ghost told Hamlet that Claudius killed him and he would have to achieve revenge. Anyone who had to deal with the stress of getting revenge on their uncle because they killed their father could have been forced to insanity. Becoming mad would cause him to do random actions and instead he made people think he was insane. Hamlet was too smart to become insane and ruin his plan for revenge. He confused Claudius by acting insane. Hamlet was warned by his father’s ghost about going mad and not to harm his mother. He knew who his enemies and friends are and took caution when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (who are two old school friends of Hamlet) were around and to play off the act by acting insane around them. Hamlet made sure that the ghost was really his father and got actors to put on a play to frame Claudius comes to the conclusion that the new king really did kill his father (Spradley, Dana). This is why we believe that Hamlet was faking madness. He outsmarted Claudius to accomplish revenge.

Hamlet was able to control people. Hamlet and Horatio came up with a plan to make the king guilty and control the actors to change what they were going to perform to a play that reenacts the death of his father (Mabillard, Amanda). Hamlet does this in a hope that Claudius would feel so guilty that he would show it and Hamlet would know for certain that the ghost was really telling the truth. Hamlet confuses people by arguing with his mother. Hamlet yells at his mother that he accidently kills Polonius because of his anger. Hamlet confuses the king when he argues with his mother because only a mad man would act like that to his mother (Blackmore, Simon). Hamlet has full control over his old friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He knew that they are now enemies and realizes that the king is not trying to take him to England to execute him. The king gave Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the job of taking Hamlet out, but little did the king know that Hamlet was faking his insanity (Mabillard, Amanda). To fully confuse his enemies he had to act like he was mad all the time. Hamlet changes from being sweet and sensitive to harsh and insensitive when they talk “Hamlet-lady shall I lie in your lap? Ophelia- No, my lord Hamlet- I mean, my head upon your lap Ophelia- Ay, my lord Hamlet-Do you think I meant country matters? Ophelia- I think nothing my lord Hamlet- Thats a fair thought to be lying in between your maids' legs’. Hamlet does not act sweet to Ophelia anymore so he could make Polonius believe that he has gone mad. Hamlet changed his relationship with Ophelia. Ophelia says “OPHELIA-As if he had been loosed out of hell,To speak of horrors,—he comes before me. LORD POLONIUS- Mad for thy love? OPHELIA-My lord, I do not know; But truly, I do fear it. LORD POLONIUS-What said he? OPHELIA-He took me by the wrist and held me hard; Then goes he to the length of all his arm; And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow” she is telling her father that Hamlet is not the same person and has gone mad (Hamlet). If it was not for Hamlet acting insane he would not have confused his enemies and his plot for revenge would have been spoiled.

His acting madness had a purpose. Hamlet confirmed that the ghost was truthful. Hamlet came up with the play idea in order to test the ghost. Hamlet thought to confuse the king and made him guilty by coming up with the idea to reenact his fathers death through a play. He knew that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were actually working for the king and were trying to kill him. Hamlet would have been too lost in his own madness to worry about his death. He would have died if he did not keep his sanity because two of his old friends were plotting against him because of the king’s orders and he wouldn’t have control over himself to be able to escape with his life (Spradley, Dana) Hamlet’s madness is not the only madness expressed in the play, whether it be fake or real. Ophelia expresses madness because of her father (Polonius) and Hamlet not being able to get along. Her father demands her to end the relationship with Hamlet, but while her heart says not to (Blackmore, Simon). Ophelia becomes insane to opposition. In comparison to Ophelia’s madness, Hamlet comes from hatred toward the king because of the kings actions with Hamlets mother and for the king killing Hamlets father. The difference with Hamlet’s madness is how he has a plan behind his madness that he “essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft” (Crawford, Alexander), to take revenge upon the king. The idea of being “mad” means “having lost rational self-control” (Spradley, Dana), meaning that when someone has become mad they would not be able to be crafty unless they were faking it.

Hamlet is in his mother’s room when he sees movement behind the hanging rug. Upon madness he stabs the rug. He believed that the king was spying on him, however it really was Polonius. Polonius death brings Ophelia to insanity. She is insane and sings response so the king believes that it “is the poison of deep; grief; it springs all from her father’s death, and now behold!” and she has gone mad like Hamlet. She is not making any sense (Spradley, Dana).
Ophelia’s madness caused her demise, because she drowned herself by a willow tree. The death of her father and the long absence of Hamlet were too much for Ophelia to take (Blackmore, Simon). There were differences in Hamlet’s and Ophelia’s madness because Hamlet had common sense while Ophelia didn’t. Ophelia’s madness was all too real in comparison to Hamlet’s madness. The madness of Hamlet comes from his anger toward his family, friends, and enemies. His mothers fast marriage to Claudius has hurt Hamlet and he says “makes marriage-vows as false as dicers’ oaths”, and that “as from the body of contraction (the marriage contract)” is “thought-sick at the act”(Hamlet). King Claudius’s is Hamlets true enemy and fills him with anger. Hamlet knows that Claudius should not have married his mother or killed his father and that is the cause of most of his anger (Spradley, Dana).
The ghost of Hamlets father fuels Hamlet’s anger by telling him to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”(Hamlet). The ghost fills Hamlet with so much anger by saying cruel things about Claudius and says that Claudius was close to him by blood, so much that Claudius wanted the crown and his wife Gertrude.

The lost of Hamlets father is never acknowledged much from others even though his father was the king of Denmark and no one appreciated him. With no one caring about the death of his father Hamlet expresses depression and anger towards those who didn’t care (Spradley, Dana). His anger grew by other factors, so much that it might have brought him to insanity, but his plan is a method of madness that seemed to fool others. Hamlets plan to kill Claudius involves complexity to the idea of madness. His madness could be real or fake. The idea of fake madness involves the deception of those around him. The idea of real madness involves the destruction of oneself. Hamlet’s fake madness seems so perfect that it seems that he himself fell into real madness (Deceiving insanity). The reason for Hamlets madness is to get revenge on Claudius and his anger derives from the death of Claudius, or his close friends, or sole enemies, or even his mother. Hamlets madness from the perspective of Polonius is caught when he says”Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t (Hamlet)(Crawford,Alexander). Gertrude believed that Hamlet was truly insane after he had killed Polonius. The fact is that the difference between madness and sanity in Hamlet would create and exciting ambiguity as to his character and the play which would be lost if one chosen either alternative.

Works Cited
Blackmore, Simon.”the real or assumed madness of hamlet”. March 17, 2010
Mabillard, Amanda. Hamlet. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. March 17, 2010
Deceiving insanity at its best: an analysis of Hamlets Mental Ambivalance. Jan 14, 2006. March 18, 2010
Beaty, Jerome. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001
Spradley, Dana. “Hamlet: Was the prince sane or mad”. March 21, 2010