Hamlet’s madness in Hamlet

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Hamlet is a notable literary work by William Shakespeare. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Hamlet.


Do you agree that there was a method in Hamlet’s madness? If so, why?

Hamlet’s madness is one of the most iconic elements of Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) play “Hamlet”. However, the nature of Hamlet’s madness is a subject of much debate and interpretation. After analyzing the tragedy, it becomes clear that Hamlet is not mad. Rather, he has pretended to be mad. The main reason for his madness is to find out the real murderer of his father, old Hamlet. Let’s explore the points of Hamlet’s madness and find out whether his madness is real or feigned.


Points of Hamlet’s madness: Hamlet shows madness in several places throughout the drama. His madness is seen in the interview with Polonius, the conversation with Horatio and the meeting with Ophelia. 


Critiques observation of Hamlet’s madness: From the age of Shakespeare to the modern period, critics discuss the most controversial topic of Hamlet’s madness. They try to discover whether Hamlet is mad or disguised to be mad. Most of them agree that Hamlet’s madness is fake. But it drives the main plot of the drama forward. Most of them acknowledged that Hamlet’s madness is unique. 


Reasons for Hamlet’s madness: At the very outset, it needs to be clear Why Hamlet pretends to be mad. There are two reasons for his madness, 

  • His mother’s remarriage with his uncle: A question is raised in the heart of Hamlet: Why does his mother, Gertrude, remarry instantly after his father’s death? He doubts that his mother is responsible for the death of his father. To know whether his mother was the murderer or involved in conspiracy, he feigned madness.
  • Revelation of the real murderer by the ghost of the Old Hamlet: The Ghost of Old Hamlet reveals the real killer’s name to Hamlet. He says that Claudius is the real culprit. But Hamlet wants to be sure whether Claudius is the real murderer. That is why he feigned madness.


Interview with Polonius: Polonius, Ophelia’s father, meets with Hamlet. After his conservative with Hamlet, he realizes that Hamlet has become totally insane. After Polonius’s departure, Hamlet tells him that he is a fool. He remarks,

These tedious old fools


In this place, it becomes quite clear that Hamlet is not mad but pretends to be mad.


Intellectual conversation with Horatio: Hamlet reveals his intellectuality while talking with his friend Horatio. His behaviour is like that of a common sense man. That is why Horatio feels Hamlet’s insight. The intellectual conversation between these two friends reveals Hamlet’s pretension of madness.


The drama of the murder of Gonzalo: In The drama of the murder of Gonzalo, Hamlet, acting in the play The Murder of Gonzalo, reveals that he is not mad. In this play, he pretends to be mad to see the Change in Claudius’s face. It becomes clear after the play that Claudius is the real murderer of his father.


Soliloquies of Hamlet: Every single soliloquy of Hamlet proves that he is not mad but rather pretending to be mad. For example, in the seventh soliloquy, Hamlet knows that his delay in avenging his father’s murder has cost him dearly. The situation is going out of control daily because of his delay in killing Claudius. He says, 

How all occasions do inform against me


Here, it becomes crystal clear that Hamlet pretends to be mad.


In conclusion, from the above discussion, it is clear that Hamlet’s madness exposes his goal. His goal is to take revenge on Claudius. At last, he becomes successful. But his madness is life-like and unique throughout the play. So, it is impossible to explore where he is mad or pretends to be mad from a superficial viewpoint.