Homework Help

Is Hamlet really mad in this play, or is merely pretending to be mad? (Find lines...

user profile pic

taya | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted May 27, 2010 at 5:10 AM via web

dislike 1 like

Is Hamlet really mad in this play, or is merely pretending to be mad? (Find lines that support your answer.)

Act 4

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 27, 2010 at 5:50 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

I would argue that he is not mad, and in fact sees things rather clearly.  One great passage that helps to demonstrate his sanity is in his soliloquy while gazing out at Fortinbras' army.  He reflects on the very nature of man and man's ability to reason as a great thing, and one not to go unused:

What is a man,(35)
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason(40)
To fust in us unused.

I don't think that he would be discoursing at such length about the great capacity of man for reason were he really caught up in a madness himself.

One might also point to his ability to think clearly in the face of discovering the plot for his own murder and to arrange for the letter to find Horatio and to get himself back safely to Elsinore as good demonstrations of his sanity.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes