Essay, Research Paper: Hamlet Madness

Shakespeare: Hamlet

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“Hamlet’s Unknown Madness” The marriage of the king and queen within two
months of the death of Hamlet’s father had left Hamlet disillusioned,
confused, and suspicious of Claudius, the King of Denmark. In Act I, Scene V,
Hamlet’s belief in his father’s “real ghost” had him in an outrage and,
he thus vows to avenge his father’s death. Ophelia encountered Hamlet in her
private chambers and observed that he was disturbed. She was very disturbed and
afraid because, “Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac’d; no hat upon his
head; his stockings foul’d ungart’red, and down-gyved to his ankle; pale as
his shirt; his knees knocking each other…” (1409). Hamlet truly loves
Ophelia, but at that particular moment, he did not want to express his feelings
to her. Ophelia tells her dad, Polonius, about her meeting with Hamlet and
Polonius concludes that Hamlet is nothing but a love struck fool who has gone
mad. Polonius wanted to assure the king and queen that he knows, “the very
cause of Hamlet’s lunacy” (1411). The king and queen were skeptical to
believe Polonius’ story of Hamlet’s lust and lunacy for Ophelia. Polonius’
effort to damage Hamlet’s reputation will not end there. Polonius approached
the king and queen with a letter that can prove his theory of Hamlet’s
madness. Polonius said, “therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and
tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: your noble son is
mad “ (1412). Even though the king heard Hamlet’s letter cited by Polonius,
he conspired to find a solution for Hamlet’s madness in his own fashion. The
king had Guilderstern and Rosencrantz act as spies so that they could either
find or gain information toward Hamlet’s madness. After Hamlet’s request to
the players to act out the Murder of Gonzago, Claudius was beginning to feel the
wrath of his offense. Claudius said, “O, my offence is rank, it smells to
heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, a brother’s murder, pray can
I not, though inclination be as sharp as will…” (1439). This is when
Hamlet’s agonizing struggles became difficult. Hamlet could have taken his
revenge while Claudius was praying, but Hamlet was confused and couldn’t
avenge his father’s death while Claudius was purging his soul. Hamlet said,
“why, this is hire and salary, not revenge…But in our circumstances and
course of thought, ‘tis heavy with him: and I then reveng’d, to take him in
the purging of his soul, when he is fit and seasoned for his passage” (1440)?
The king knows his guilt and when he prays he states, “my words fly up, my
thoughts remain below: words without thoughts never to heaven go” (1440). It
is in Act III, Scene IV, that we see Hamlet approach his mother Gertrude and
question the way she had offended his father in which she married Hamlet’s
uncle soon after her husband’s death. The sneaky and witty Polonius was behind
the curtain but Hamlet did not know it. While questioning his mother about the
death of his father, he heard a voice coming from behind the curtain: Hamlet
turned with sword in hand and stabbed the person behind the curtain. He said,
“How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead” (1441)! At first, Hamlet thought
he killed the king, but instead he killed Polonius in which he felt was better,
“thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better:
take thy fortune…(1441) Hamlet struggled throughout the play. Although he is
an intelligent man, the madness that descended upon him with his supernatural
observation of the ghost of his father leads to his death. Furthermore, toward
the end of the play, I get a clear understanding that he had fulfilled the
revenge of his father. From the unwary death of Ophelia, the poison drink that
took Gertrude’s life, the vengeful dual of death between Laertes and Hamlet,
we see Hamlet’s unknown madness of revenge when Hamlet kills the king of
Denmark.
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