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Hamlet Analysis is interesting

Updated on April 21, 2012



            In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare there are many questions that come up about the sanity of many of its characters. Hamlet’s sanity is openly discussed in the play and has been the subject of debate for centuries. Is Hamlet really mad? If so, what causes Hamlet’s madness? Is he sometimes pretending to be mad and at other times genuinely unbalanced? I believe that in the beginning of the play, Hamlet is not insane; he is just stricken with grief over his father’s death, and is upset that his mother married his uncle so quickly afterwards. Then later as the play goes on, Hamlet grows increasingly unbalanced. I believe that at parts of the play Hamlet is truly crazy. At the end of the play I believe that Hamlet is at peace and no longer insane when he dies. I believe that other characters such as Ophelia start out sane and the actions caused by Hamlet make them truly crazy.

            The play starts with the two guards seeing the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the previous king of Denmark. Horatio, Hamlets friend and confidant, is testing his own sanity in the first act when he witnesses the ghost. “Barnardo: How now, Horatio, you tremble and look pale. Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you on ‘t? Horatio: Before my God, I might not this believe, without the sensible and true avouch of mine own eyes.”

            In Act 1, Scene 4 Hamlet talks about how upset he is over the realization that his uncle killed his father, in order to become the king of Denmark. His own father tells him this while he is in ghost form. I believe that now Hamlet has crossed the line from sane to insane. “Hamlet: O that this is too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd  His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!" I believe this quote shows Hamlet has entered into a world of madness and sanity in the fact that he begins to contemplate the act of suicide. However decides not to do so because this act is forbidden by religion. Suicide is a serious topic of thought, and is not brought on by someone unless they are not sane at the time. 

            In Act 3, Scene 3 Hamlet blatantly states that the only way he can avenge his father is by murdering his uncle. “Hamlet: A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do the same villain send To heaven." I think that this quote greatly illustrates Hamlet's loss of sanity. The only way that he sees is right is the route of murder. He cannot comprehend any other ways to settle the loss of his father except by taking the life of his uncle. He has clearly gone mad with revenge, and he is looking to feed his hunger for vengeance. I think the clearest way to see Hamlet's insanity is to look at how his thought process works. He doesn't consider his options. He sees what he wants, and unlike sane people, doesn’t weigh the moral standpoint any longer.

            In Act 3, Scene 4 is when I see Hamlets sanity go completely out the window. He is in his mother’s bedroom trying to talk to her when he hears a noise and immediately starts to stab whoever is hiding without even making sure it is the Uncle. “Queen: What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? Help, ho! Polonius: What ho! Help! Hamlet: How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.”  I feel like Hamlet's killing Polonius with no hesitation, mistaking him for Claudius but not even checking that it was Claudius, shows how much he has been driven to madness. Hamlet has lost much of his humanity. To just stab someone through a curtain without a thought is an undeniably “crazy person” thing to do.

In Act 3, Scene 4 Hamlet is with his mother in her bedroom chamber, after just murdering Polonius thinking it was the new King spying on their conversation. While he is yelling at his mother, the ghost of his father reappears but only Hamlet can see him. This furthers my opinion that Hamlet has truly gone insane. "Queen: To whom do you speak this? Hamlet: Do you see nothing there? Queen: No, nothing but ourselves. Hamlet: Why look you there, look how it steals away! My father, in his habit as he lived! Look where he goes even now out at the portal! Queen: This is the very coinage of your brain. This bodiless creation ecstasy is very cunning in." I believe this quote makes the readers perceive Hamlet as insane due to the fact that Hamlet is talking to his father’s ghost while his mother, Queen Gertrude is there and she cannot see him. After killing Polonius, the Queen already thinks Hamlet was already mad from his father’s death, and now, as she witnesses Hamlet talking to the air, she believes that he has finally snapped. This quote shows the readers that the ghost has the chance to be just a figment of Hamlets imagination due to his grief for the Kings death. 

In Act 4, Scene 2 Hamlet is talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about where Polonius’s body is and he’s just confusing them with his banter. In this scene I think Hamlet is crazy because he’s just chatting like he never murdered someone when he just killed Polonius, the father of his beloved Ophelia. “Rosencrantz: Take you me for a sponge, my lord? Hamlet: Ay, sir, that soaks up the King’s countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the King best service in the end. He keeps them like (an ape) an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again. Rosencrantz: I understand you not, my lord. Hamlet: I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear. Rosencrantz: My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to the King. Hamlet: The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body. The King is a thing-.” Hamlet is acting completely crazy in this scene because he’s babbling on about where the body is hidden to Rosencrantz. He will never directly tell him where the body is and is just insulting him that he’s so under the control of the King. Hamlet’s last line is kind of like a rhyme, the body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing…who knows what he’s talking about? He’s crazy!

A scene towards the end, Act 5 Scene 1, Hamlet is standing outside of Ophelia’s grave. When Laertes jumps into the grave, Hamlet becomes angry and heartbroken over her death. “Hamlet: Why, I will fight with him upon this theme until my eyelids will no longer wag! Queen: O my son, what theme? Hamlet: I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her? King: O, he is mad, Laertes! Queen: For love of god, forbear him. Hamlet: ‘Swounds, show me what thou’t do. Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear thyself, woo’t drink up easel, eat a crocodile? I’ll do‘t.” I think this was a very powerful scene because it shows that death really effects Hamlet, not just the death of his father, but the death of his true love. She killed herself (apparently) because of the grief of losing her father to the love of her life. That has to put guilt on Hamlet as well, which in turn, makes him even more insane. 

In the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare I believe Hamlet becomes completely crazy as the book goes on with each death. When the King of Denmark is murdered by Claudius, Hamlet is distraught with trying to get revenge. By trying to get revenge, he drives himself mad and ends up murdering Polonius by accident, which in turn makes Ophelia insane, and she then perishes. At the end, the Queen, Claudius, Laertes, and Hamlet all die. In a way, they all caused the other deaths of the characters in the books as well as their own all because they drove themselves insane with revenge.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your analysis on most of these passages are a little off. One example is the line "The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body.

      The king is a thing—" if you really thought about it, Hamlet is clearly implying that Polonius is dead just like the old Hamlet, and the old Hamlet is not with his body meaning his spirit is not with its body, and the spirit is a thing.

      Just giving a little insight, not criticism .

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great work

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      this work is terrific

    • profile image

      Jake Scott 

      6 years ago

      meh mehh

    • profile image

      ali koohdel 

      8 years ago

      i like you to explain act 3 scene 4 more than the other scenes

    • Jscott10 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      Thank you!

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific work read thanks much


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