Study Questions 1 Shakespeare includes characters in Hamlet who are obvious foils for Hamlet, including, most obviously, Horatio, Fortinbras, Claudius, and Laertes. Compare and contrast Hamlet with each of these characters. How are they alike? How are they different?
On this question there are four different hypotheses: From the outline already given it will be seen that the first of these hypotheses is assumed. But before stating reasons in support of this assumption, it will be convenient to consider the views of those who hold that Hamlet was more or less insane from the time at which the Ghost appeared to him.
On this point the experts, the "mad-doctors", as they are sometimes called, are tolerably unanimous. Ray asserts that "the integrity of every train of reason is marred by some intrusion of disease: Nothing is more so than a fondness of annoying those whom they dislike by ridicule, raillery, satire, vulgarity, and every other species of shame.
Ray goes on to note Hamlet's "bad dreams" as one of the symptoms of impending insanity; his behaviour to Ophelia he says "discloses an interesting feature in mental pathology, — the change which insanity brings over the warmest affections of the heart, whereby the golden chains wrought by love and kindness are utterly dissolved, and the forsaken and desolate spirit, though it continues among men, is no longer of them.
Bucknill notes in regard to the same matter that Hamlet's conduct here "is a mixture of feigned madness, of the selfishness of passion blasted by the cursed blight of fate, of harshness which he assumes to protect himself from an affection which he feels hostile to the present purpose of his life, and of that degree of real unsoundness, his unfeigned 'weakness and melancholy,' which is the subsoil of his mind.
Conolly adverts, among other things, to Hamlet's exhortations to secrecy as among the symptoms of madness recognisable as such by all physicians intimately acquainted with the beginnings of insanity; to the flightiness and cynical disdain by which on almost all occasions his conversation is marred; to the gradual progress of the disease as described by Polonius; to his conversations with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exhibiting the acuteness which an insane man will for a short time display; to his extravagance of behaviour at Ophelia's funeral, etc.
Kellogg notices Hamlet's restlessness, imperfect sleep, bad dreams; the successive steps in the progress of his disease; Ophelia's conviction of his madness, in which she would not likely be deceived; the readiness with which the genuine manifestations burst forth upon occasions of unusual excitement, etc.
Now I am not of course going to set my ignorance against the profound knowledge of these experts; I readily accept all the statements set out as to the symptoms of madness; and yet I deny the conclusion at which the experts have arrived.
Hamlet's declared intention of assuming "an antic disposition," his assurance to his mother that he is only "mad in craft," the test he proposes in proof of his assertion, may all be conceded as valueless in determining the question. But the fact that Shakespeare has deceived even the elect into a belief of Hamlet's madness is nothing more than the very highest testimony to his consummate art.
If he could acquire a knowledge so intimate, so accurate, so profound, of madness in its various phases, what is there to hinder his endowing one of his characters with the power of assuming those phases?
If the other persons associated with him could at once discover that the madness was put on, of course the entire action would be marred, and the object for which the pretended madness would be designed would be defeated by the discovery.
To show this consistency, it will be necessary to follow his behaviour step by step. The first show of eccentricity, then, is immediately after the revelation made to him by the Ghost, and this is closely followed by the warning to Horatio and Marcellus that he may hereafter find it expedient "to put an antic disposition on.
It is upon Polonius that we first see the effect of Hamlet's experiment in acting the madman; an experiment producing exactly the desired impression, viz. Hamlet knows well enough that a father's vanity will lie tickled by the belief that his daughter is loved to such distraction by one so much above her in station, and that the garrulous old courtier will not only at once carry the news to the king, but will do his best to instill into him the same faith.
No more crafty design could have been conceived for hoodwinking Polonius, and through him the king, by whom he was held in so high esteem for his penetration.
The next manifestation we have of Hamlet's insanity is in his conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Their sudden return to Elsinore strikes Hamlet as something strange, and he quickly guesses that the king is at the bottom of it.
With them, however, it is necessary for him to play a somewhat different role. His first object is to ascertain whether they have been set as spies upon him, and without much difficulty he turns them completely inside out, while the apparently irrelevant observations he makes from time to time, together with the confidence he pretends to repose in them as to his state of mind, impresses them with the idea of his insanity; none the less firmly that he deprecates such an idea by declaring that he is "but mad north-north-west.In Hamlet, Shakespeare takes it up a notch: does Hamlet truly go "mad," or is the cuckoo-talk, like the play itself, all an act?
And if madness is a form of theatricality (maybe with some " method " in it, as Polonius says) —does that mean that all actors are crazy? If you argue that he was not insane, but merely feigning it, then you can see that, in Act i, Scene v., lines , Hamlet tells Horatio that he will "feign madness", and to excuse strange.
He talks to a skull, for crying out loud! It's pretty damning evidence for insanity. If you argue that he was not insane, but merely feigning it, then you can see that, in Act i, Scene v., lines , Hamlet tells Horatio that he will "feign madness", and to excuse strange behavior from him.
Essay about Feigned Insanity in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. True insanity cannot be controlled but feigned insanity is easily controlled in order to manipulate other people.
In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet pretends that he is insane to trick King Claudius and his company while in fact, he is not at all mad.
Essay on Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. something that ruined a relationship, lying or hiding the truth is a universal theme that everyone could relate to.
In Hamlet, William Shakespeare uses the theme of deception to develop characters and cause their ultimate downfall in the play. Hamlet and Insanity William Shakespeare’s supreme tragic drama Hamlet does not answer fully for many in the audience the pivotal question concerning the sanity of Hamlet – whether it is totally feigned or not.