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Is Hamlet crazy?

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tishmel | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 23, 2007 at 3:51 PM via web

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Is Hamlet crazy?

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nedsneebly | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 24, 2007 at 5:21 PM (Answer #2)

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Personally no I don't think he's crazy. I think it is all just an act for Claudius, because if you remember in act 3 scene 4 when he confronts his mother, he tells her that he's "only mad in craft."

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arjun | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted August 26, 2007 at 5:02 AM (Answer #3)

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Hamlet is not crazy.  If he had been crazy, he must have killed Claudius in prayer.  He wishes to kill him in order to save himself from remorse and degradation beside he is brave or brave on, so it lies on him as foremost responsibility.so he is not crazy and tries to save himself from cowardice.

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ggcr07 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 30, 2007 at 8:26 PM (Answer #4)

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It is all an act. Remember in act I, scene V when he says:

As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on-

This is in fact the announcement of his madness and his intention to fake it.

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted August 31, 2007 at 10:29 AM (Answer #5)

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I think he is crazy. It may be a temporary madness, but it is madness nonetheless. Remember that crazy people never think they're crazy, it's everyone else who is insane, never them.

Isn't it possible that Hamlet is both really insane, and pretending to be insane?

Consider: Hamlet drives away his only love, he's unable to take the action best for himself and his country and depose the King-killing Claudius, he murders an innocent man by lunging at unknown persons behind tapestries, he scares everyone witless, even those who don't need to be scared... all the while telling himself that his madness is just an act.

He may think he's not crazy, but his actions speak otherwise. Just because we have access to his seemingly-lucid thoughts do not mean those thoughts make any sense outside of Hamlet's own mind.

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tal | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted August 31, 2007 at 2:52 PM (Answer #6)

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I fall on the side of "not crazy", because he expresses so much self-doubt and self awareness. These are not qualities I think a crazy person has. Although he delays and is not good at revenge, that doesn't make him crazy. His craziness is an act designed to drive people away, because he is getting into some bad business. 

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ggcr07 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 5, 2007 at 4:27 PM (Answer #7)

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Exactly! If he didnt pretend that he was mad do you think that he could have gotten away with so many things? The Prince of Denmark has certain protocol rules and by pretending to be mad he could get away with these things! Besides, in act 3 he begs his mother to keep his secret quiet and not tell Claudius that he  is not mad at all. Although this is debatable because he has been through so much (death of his father, hasty marriage of his mother) he is too analytical and as tal said "self-aware" to be considered crazy.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 7, 2007 at 2:33 AM (Answer #8)

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Just a funny thing I read the other day by Auden:  "Beware of anyone who says the want to play the part of Hamlet."  Given the recent, ummm, troubles of Mel Gibson, it seems like a good warning!  But I'm curious to know if any other well-known actors of the part have had ego or sanity problems. 

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daveb | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 16, 2007 at 12:42 PM (Answer #9)

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I think blazedale's point said it best: I think he's both crazy and not. Better put, I think that while he might be unbelievably upset from his father's death, I think his actions afterwards all stem from that. He's not crazy, but "he ain't right," either.

Regarding actors with problems, if you want to include Kenneth Brannaugh as someone with a blindingly massive ego AND played Hamlet, feel free to add him to your list.

David Becker

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corkey885 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2010 at 5:53 AM (Answer #10)

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I personally thing that in his act of pretending to be crazy he actually becomes crazy.

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wildandfree | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 8, 2010 at 6:22 PM (Answer #11)

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I believe Hamlet is definitely just putting on an act, although there is the feeling that his obsession with his father's revenge has driven him crazy, I think Hamlet is way too smart for that. I think there is little that Hamlet doesn't know, especially durring moments when he is being watched. I think Hamlet knows he's being watched and therefore acts even crazier, like when he's with Ophelia, he knows Polonius will be listening to every word he says, hence the way he treats her.

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