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Hamlet appears to be insane. Is he insane or is he pretending?

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mary33620 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 12, 2008 at 10:55 PM via web

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Hamlet appears to be insane. Is he insane or is he pretending?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 12, 2008 at 11:55 PM (Answer #1)

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This is an age-old debate, and has been asked several times on this site.  See the links below to get to those answers.  Good Luck, and thanks for using enotes!

Sources:

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enya | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 13, 2008 at 4:31 AM (Answer #2)

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Hamlets madness is simply a reflection of his self doubt, his trepidation as he decides what action to take. Hamlet is an introverted person (self reflective), who doesn't wish to have such a large obligation upon his shoulders as to avenge his fathers death, O cursed spite that ever i was born to set it right!, but it is arguable that this is what drives Hamlet mad. Is it not simply his knowledge of what he must do that causes him to behave as such due to his self wallowing an confusion?

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furczyka | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 14, 2008 at 4:32 AM (Answer #3)

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Hamlet is acting insane, but he is only reacting to the events that have transpired in the past two months.  The death of his father, King Hamlet, has triggered depression, but the fact that his mother, Queen Gertrude, has remarried so quickly and to his uncle, sends him into a state of confusion, as well.  As the play develops, Hamlet learns that King Claudius, not only married his mother, but has murdered his father.  During Act III, Hamlet has definitely reached a state of insanity.  Everyone, except Horatio, is plotting against him in one way or another, and he finally confronts his mother.  The harsh way Hamlet speaks to Ophelia and Queen Gertrude shows his distaste for women--sneaky and weak.  He doesn't even show any type of remorse when accidentally killing Polonius, whom he thought was his uncle spying instead.  With Hamlet's emotions running wild and everyone with an opinion of what he is doing or should be doing, no wonder Hamlet has gone mad...

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callmed18 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 15, 2008 at 3:39 AM (Answer #4)

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I don't think either of these answers is completely conclusive or correct. He isn't necessarily insane nor pretending to be so. I would classify his actions under sound depression and confusion. With the events which have occured within the past couple months of his life, these 2 states of mind seem to be entirely excuseable if not obvious. With the death of his father (king hamlet), and his mother (queen gertrude) marrying his uncle (thus making him the king) sends him spiraling into nothing more than sorrow and bewilderment. So, I don't think either of the options justifies his attitude and reactions that occured post-death of his father. 

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hamlet-lover | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 15, 2008 at 3:49 AM (Answer #5)

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I think that he is not insane, I think the only reason he is acting this way is because of his inner feelings towards everyone around him. He felt betrayed by his mom, his uncle and his supposed friends from school.

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hamlet930 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 15, 2008 at 3:53 AM (Answer #6)

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I feel that Hamlet is just pretending to be insane. This is his cover for the knowledge he has learned from his father's ghost. With his father's death and the betrayal of his mother, he is in a deep state of depression but I feel that he is completely sane until he killed Polonius. Hamlet killed an innocent man in a rage and that in itself I feel is insanity.

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dianamaldonado | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 15, 2008 at 3:54 AM (Answer #7)

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I think that Hamlet is insane. I think that he is going insane because, seriously, his mother married his uncle only two months after his dad died.Now his uncle is king and Hamlet knows that the King killed his dad. There is just so much going on in his life and now he is going crazy. 

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pelusoe | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 15, 2008 at 3:59 AM (Answer #8)

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Hamlet could be classified as insane because he is acting in a very crazy, but he is just pretending to act this way to get attention because he wants who ever killed his father (king claduis) to get justice. 

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ilovehamlet | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 15, 2008 at 4:04 AM (Answer #9)

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hamlet is insane..he thinks about ending his life..he is mean to everyone that cares about him..he is FULL of hate and just mad at life

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ham4hamlet | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 15, 2008 at 4:05 AM (Answer #10)

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"Appear" is a good word to use for Hamlet's so called insanity. Hamlet reminds me of myself because he appears to be insane but isn't. Hamlet just wants to be left alone. Come on, if your father who you dearly loved recently died, how would you feel? Furthermore, how would you react towards the world? I doubt that anyone would want to go around spreading love and happiness...so I don't blame the poor, confused Hamlet.

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bdemilio | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 15, 2008 at 4:05 AM (Answer #11)

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I feel there is reason to believe that Hamlet is insane. From the start of the play Hamlet is described as still grieving the death of his father and feeling depressed - I think he has reasonable clause to go insane especially after his father's ghost appears (how would you react after seeing an apparition?) and he learns that his uncle is the cause of his father's death. Not only was his father murdered by his uncle but his uncle also continued to pursue his mother and marry her. Also, if Hamlet was pretending to be insane it would show during his soliloquies - a person pretending to being insane would not still pretend to be insane while alone and talking to themself.

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