I'm thinking of doing a term-paper comparing Macbeth and Hamlets' mental health (or lack of it) and the psychiatric symptoms and changes that they display. Your ideas, opinions, quotes and amateur psychology are most welcome! Who goes more gaga, The Scot or The Dane? And why?
Macbeth:How is't with me, when every noise appalls me? What hands are here? Hah! They pluck out my eyes!
Hamlet:"Denmark's a prison."
Rosencrantz:"We think not so, my lord"
Hamlet:"Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison."
Rosencrantz: Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'tis too narrow for your mind.
Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
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Definitely Macbeth. He is an all-out murderer for the sake of his ambition. He starts out partnering with Lady Macbeth and then ends up planning his diabolical deeds all on his own. His a true nut-case.
Hamlet, true, kills people, but not for pure ambition. Polonius was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only other person Hamlet kills is Claudius...the target of his revenge for the murder if King Hamlet. Crazy, yes, but for good reason.
"Signs of insanity" into Google pops up a great source: Mystic Bedlam, Cambridge UP--see below. You might derive your parameters from this source (citing it), giving your argument a foundation more academic than whatever my pop-psychology could lay out for you.
That's what I'd do if I were writing the paper--I'd first define insanity by some reputable source, and then I'd psychoanalyze both characters according to that definition. Then I'd chart out and compare the extent of their sicknesses and see who wins (ha--loses?).
And I don't know how much weight you want to give the "goes more" idea, but if the fall is important to your argument, then I'd also compare the gap between each character's starting mental state and his resulting madness.
But do please also consider Hamlet--note the corrupted playfulness of his language, his manic unabashed superiority even with Horatio, and his justifying his unholy delusions and unholy actions (control soul's destiny, murder w/o shriving time) with God's will ). Though Macbeth is violent, he keeps himself under the prophecies: "I ber a charmed life which must not yield / To one of woman born." But Hamlet leaves the ghost's charge, justifies personal murder with his own prophecy: "there's a divinity that shapes out ends / Rough hue them as we may," and in the end tells Horatio to lie: "absent thee from felicity...," when he tells Hamlet's story "with the occurents, more and less."
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