Essay, Research Paper: College Paper On Shakespeare


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Hamlet appears to be insane, after Polonius’s death, in act IV scene II. There
are indications, though, that persuade me to think other wise. Certainly, Hamlet
has plenty of reasons to be insane at this point. His day has been hectic—he
finally determined Claudius had killed his father, the chance to kill Claudius
confronted him, he comes very close to convincing Gertrude that Claudius killed
his father, he accidentally kills Polonius, and finally the ghost of his father
visits him. These situations are enough to bring Hamlet to insanity, but he
remains sharp and credible. Hamlet is able to make smart remarks to Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern, comparing then to sponges, "When he (Claudius) needs what
you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry
again," (pg 98, 20). This is random and unexpected, as many of his actions,
but the comparison makes sense; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern soak up all the
kings favors, only to become dry again after they mop up the King’s mess
(spying on Hamlet, and getting Polonius’s body). Later, with Claudius, Hamlet
tells how lowly a king can be by saying, "A man (beggar) may fish with the
worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that
worm," (pg 99, 29). This also makes sense, and is not quite as random; when
Hamlet confronts Claudius, and the king asks where Polonius is, Hamlet
immediatly begins the comparison by telling Claudius that Polonuis is at supper
(the worms are eating him for supper, and so on). This proves that Hamlet had
some kind of planning for this degrading comment, and that his thoughts are not
scattered and he is able to stay focused. There is a question of what being
insane really is. Since it is agreeable that Ophelia was crazy, it’s possible
to use her as a guide to make this argument valid. Hamlet and Ophelia both
shared the trait of having calculated thoughts, Ophelia’s singing and
Hamlet’s verbal attacks. They also shared calmness before their deaths. But
was Hamlet spraying rude remarks to everyone before he died, as Ophelia had sung
floating down the river? No, in-fact Hamlet was the opposite of what he was
before. If he were crazy, like Ophelia, he would have remained hectic and random
up until the time of (and after) the duel. Hamlet, though, was not—he even
reasoned what death for him was, finishing his question of whether life was
worth living for. Hamlet can truley be seen to be sane, and not. The facts that
Hamlet was smart and swift thinking, and in such a reversal of emotions (from
after Polonius died) in the end, leads strongly to the opinion that Hamlet was
not insane.
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