Hi ny name is Lemuel and I was wondering if anyone could possibly edit an essay about Hamlet that is worth 20% of my final grade. Thank you in advanced. And also, my English is considerably average so please don't make fun of me but don't get me wrong, I can take harsh constructive criticisms
"The mind is everything. What you think you become."- Buddha
In the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, among all the noteworthy and controversial questions the play raises, the subject of whether or not Hamlet is insane is arguably the main question readers often leave unanswered. By the end of the play, many readers are left baffled and conflicted as Shakespeare leaves Hamlet's insanity open to interpretation. Ultimately, this leads us to the prime question: Was Hamlet's madness real or feigned? At the beginning, Hamlet appears to be sane as he grieves the death of his father, similar to anyone who lost their loved ones. But after the ghost reveals to Hamlet its desires to be avenged, Hamlet decides to put on "antic disposition" to help with his plan for revenge. However, in the later scenes, when he accidentally kills Polonius, it becomes crystal-clear that he has gone mad. In this essay, we will examine the transformation of Hamlet's disposition, from feigned madness to real madness, by analyzing his interactions with both Polonius and Ophelia, his actions before and the moment he kills Polonius, and what he does shortly after he kills Polonius.
Primarily, in the play Hamlet, Shakespeare first introduces the character of Hamlet appearing to be sane, devoid of any hints of apparent insanity. However, Hamlet, after his encounter with the apparition, declares that he will attempt to portray insanity, suggesting he is at least sane enough to be able to tell the difference between disordered and rational behavior. He then tells his comrades Horatio and Marcellus that he plans to "put an antic disposition on" (1.5.180) to evade any suspicions from Claudius. Shakespeare first uses Ophelia, among other characters, to describe Hamlet's sudden changes in both his appearance and behavior caused by his "antic disposition." Shortly after expressing his plan to put on his "antic disposition," Hamlet changes his appearance from that of a presumably attractive young man to that of a sickly figure. After Hamlet shows up in her chamber, Ophelia, Hamlet's lover, explains that Hamlet appears "with his doublet all unbraced, No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled, Ungartered, and down-gyved to his ankle, Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other, And with a look so piteous in purport As if he had been loosed out of hell" (2.1.88-93). In this case, Hamlet still remains sane as he reveals to the audience that his "antic disposition" is for the purpose of unobtrusively finding out more information and preventing the members of the council deeming him suspicious of what he is about to do in the future for his revenge. Undoubtedly, it becomes obvious that Hamlet is still capable of thinking rationally because Hamlet, himself, establishes the fact that there is reasoning and logic behind his actions. Furthermore, we see Hamlet's madness as certainly an act during his interaction with Polonius. In their interaction, Polonius perceives Hamlet to be mad as he calls him a "fish-monger" (2.?). Although his language seems to be wild, there seems to be a purpose of hidden meaning in his insane speech. While it is true that his statement in this scene appears to be illogical, it actually has a hidden meaning of calling Polonius a pimp who uses his daughter for his own advantages. In this case, Hamlet's commentary contains observations and critiques that strongly suggest the presence of a sane mind that is capable of thinking rationally and straightforwardly. In essence, Hamlet during his interactions with Ophelia and Polonius help prove to the reader that Hamlet still has his grip to reality and his sanity.
Generally, although Hamlet informs us that his "antic disposition" is merely an act, it slowly begins to overtake him in reality. This becomes clearer when we analyze his actions before and the moment he kills Polonius, an innocent character. In particular, Hamlet's transition from sanity to insanity begins at the point when his mother, Gertrude, summons him to her closet to demand an explanation for his embarrassing and eccentric behaviour in front of the nobles. During their conversation, Hamlet relentlessly berates Gertrdue as if he didn't see her as his mother who deserved respect. Hamlet's misogynistic behavior toward Gertrude can be seen as evidence that Hamlet really is going mad, because their conversation has little to do with his quest for justice, and yet it seems to provoke his strongest feelings. We see little evidence in the play that Gertrude is guilty of any wrongdoing, and she appears to feel genuine affection and concern for Hamlet. Yet he treats her with paranoia, suspicion, cruelty, and disrespect suggesting he has lost the ability to accurately interpret other people's motivations. In fact, Hamlet experiences an emotional outburst when things don't go his way. This happens when Gertrude tells Hamlet that she is unable to see the ghost that he is supposedly having a conversation with. Gertrude, who at the moment feels appalled and disrespected by Hamlet's conduct, disagrees with Hamlet as she only sees him frantically talking to thin air. Much to Gertrude's concerns for her son, she has no choice at all to believe that Hamlet is no longer sane as she even says "Alas, he's mad." (3.4.105) In essence, Hamlet's conversation with his mother suggests that his mad behavior is no longer just a ploy to disguise his revenge plans but rather a manifestation of real madness. Moreover, after several moments of harsh interaction between Hamlet and his mother in the bedchamber, Hamlet hears a noise behind the tapestry where Polonius is hidden trying to spy on them. Hamlet believes it to be Claudius and stabs wildly through the tapestry, killing Polonius on impulse, without a second thought supporting the case for insanity because of his inability to determine right from wrong and having no concept of the possible consequences of his actions. Though Hamlet has control over his insanity when he first displays it, as the play progresses, Hamlet loses that power over it. He puts a constantly decreasing quantity of thought into his actions, thoughts, and words and this becomes the case when he kills Polonius. Undoubtedly, such an action reveals a considerable change in Hamlet from the beginning of the play to the end. In the beginning of the play, Hamlet carefully avoids carrying forth actions until he knows their consequences. On the other hand, by the end, he rashly fails to consider the outcome of an action before responding thus we can ultimately conclude after killing Polonius that he has officially gone mad. All in all, Hamlet's transition, from a normal, sane man to a crazy madman, becomes more evident when analyzing his actions during Act 3.
Finally, Hamlet loses his touch with reality and becomes entirely insane. Hamlet's traumatic encounter with his mother and the subsequent murder of Polonius seem to leave him in a frantic, unstable frame of mind. In particular, he's shown absolutely no remorse for his actions after killing Polonius as it appears in the play that the death of an innocent man didn't seem to spark some kind of realizations of his wrongdoings. And Hamlet, who was obsessed with his sinful nature in the earlier acts fails to recognize the mortal sin he committed. As he is consumed by madness, Hamlet, in return, turns a blindeye to the fact that he has murdered a person. Had he been sane at this point, Hamlet, knowing his melodramatic character, would have begun to exhibit an emotional breakdown and come across some self-reflections for what he has done. However, we do not see this as Hamlet is no longer himself - he has become one with his "antic disposition." Consequently, we see the repercussions of Hamlet's madness as he hides the body of Polonius for absolutely no legitimate reasons. (insert more commentary) Then, as Claudius receives this information, he instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and bring the body of Polonius to the chapel in the castle. In their conversation, they ask Hamlet, with sincerity and patience, to tell them where he has hidden the body but he refuses to give them a straightforward response. Instead, he tells them that ''The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing...'' (4.?). In essence, what Hamlet does is give them rude, cryptic, and mysterious and puzzling answers which are profoundly indicative of his insanity. In addition, the way Hamlet treated his childhood friends, whom he valued greatly, with hostility is extremely telling on his disposition that he has gone mad. It strongly suggests that Hamlet has lost his touch with his own sanity because of his inability to recognize his friends even with their genuine concerns. Furthermore, typically when a murder happens, it is likely that the murderer is already nowhere to be found in the vicinity of the crime scene. The murderer would have already, in theory, ran away to avoid getting caught. However, Hamlet does the opposite and remains inside Elsinore. In fact, he had the confidence and audacity to face other people despite killing an innocent man. Indeed, from this point Hamlet has extremely gone too deep with madness. His character, based in the earlier acts, seemed to be an intelligent fellow so if he was still sane, he would have definitely come up with a plan to hide the murder or simply run away to avoid getting caught. Altogether, by the end of Act 4, given the profuse amount of evidence to support his madness, it is clear that Hamlet who used to be sane is now insane and causing havoc inside Elsinore.
In conclusion, the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, demonstrates the transition of Hamlet's disposition, from feigned insanity to real insanity. Through the examination of Hamlet's interactions with both Polonius and Ophelia, his actions before and the moment he kills Polonius, and what he does after he kills Polonius, we can profoundly conclude that Hamlet, by the end of Act 3, ironically morphed into a person he dreaded - a madman. Whether using the "antic disposition" for avoiding blame, or for simply finding out the truth about events revolving around King Hamlet's death, Hamlet's madness fails its purpose. Rather than simply getting rid of Claudius, Hamlet's antic disposition has, in essence, a domino effect on the plot. Hamlet has his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed because they become a nuisance to him. Shortly before their deaths, Hamlet murders Polonius, which upsets Ophelia even more. Ophelia becomes depressed and dies in a river. Hamlet's slaughter of Polonius also upsets Laertes, who plots with Claudius against Hamlet. In the end, Hamlet, Laertes, Gertrude, and Claudius all perish away. If Hamlet had never put on the "antic disposition," he may not have gotten revenge, but the play would not have ended in tragedy. Indeed, Hamlet, himself, as well as those he loved, would not have died. Hamlet's situation with his madness has reversed completely. That which Hamlet created and controlled from the start now possesses power over him. This, though, absolutely does not excuse Hamlet's actions. Though Hamlet's "antic disposition" and his rage may have eased the carrying forth of his actions, both are creations of him. Ultimately, both are things over which he initially had control, but which he gradually allowed to take control over him.