An Analysis Of Hamlet's Insanity

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The reality or unreality of Hamlet’s madness has become one of the most discussed aspects of the play since it first rose to critical prominence. The rhetorical importance of Hamlet’s psyche is huge: it paints the entire scope of his actions in a particular way; to such a degree that many interpretations of the play ride entirely on the reality of his sanity. Ultimately, because of the structure of literature, the question is undecidable. Literature in a realist mode such as Hamlet—not reducible to the modern genre of realism, but instead a particular relationship between the reader or viewer of the work and the work itself—implicitly creates a model of human nature by constructing its characters. While it does not necessarily exhaust the…show more content…
The interpretation of this, as with everything else, is contextual, and reveals a different relationship with madness has developed over time. Michel Foucault developed a model of madness that saw the concept of insanity as a power structure, one which the powerful use to control those who do not assent to conventional society (Foucault 27). Hamlet’s disposition at the opening of the play is certainly not one that lends itself well to his social position as a prince; it is for this reason, the fact that his melancholia is standing out to onlookers who require his stability that the queen and king begin to counsel and try to help him. From the beginning Hamlet’s illness, whether it is legitimate or not, is defined by its social nature and…show more content…
If his madness is performative what does he get out of these moments? The question has often been raised: in what way is Hamlet actually helped by acting mad? The question is hugely important, in that it seems as if Hamlet, being the stepson of the king, would have all the access to him he would need—in fact, if anything, it would make his job of assassination easier if he had acted as a normal person instead of his bizarre performances. By performing like a madman, however, Hamlet can be seen as essentially working through the madness of his position: he finds himself unable to murder his uncle, despite all of heaven declaring that it would be right for him to do so. In other words, Hamlet’s madness can be seen as a form of operative madness, not a state of actual mental imbalance but a way to make sense of the whirl of his own mind. It is not quite a performance in this interpretation, but instead an adoption of a certain framework of thinking, the scattered and divided thought of the

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