Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Is Hamlet Crazy

Is Hamlet crazy?

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Looking at the text, it is clear beginning from Act I that Hamlet makes a conscious decision to feign madness, which is to act as though he has lost all reason and rationality. What is unspoken in the text, though a large part of cultural Renaissance life, is the conflict between the cultural view and the Protestant view of revenge killing.

Hamlet is clearly a dedicated Protestant because he has been away at university in Witenberg. Wittenberg houses the university at which Protestant reformer Martin Luther was educated and at which he later taught as a professor. The late King Hamlet was clearly not a Protestant--or at least not to the extent to which Hamlet is--since his dying mission is to coerce his son into playing his culturally required (but religiously denied) role of committing revenge killing to avenge the assassination by Claudius.

Fortinbras illustrates perfectly the culturally required reaction of a son whose father has been murdered. This reaction is even more profoundly required of a Prince...

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zumba96 | Student

He is crazy. Hamlet was sane and acted crazy at first to uncover the murderer of his father, but then became crazy. With his inward conflict of himself and the conflict of trying to conform to societal norms, he later becomes crazy since he cannot handle it. He becomes his own downfall and leads to his end. 

wildandfree | Student

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.

corkey885 | Student

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

ggcr07 | Student

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.

tal | Student

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. 

ggcr07 | Student

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.

arjun | Student

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.

nedsneebly | Student

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."