From the first lines of the poem, it emerges that Hamlet acts like a mad person. On the one hand, he has every right to be upset about the father’s death and his mother’s marriage to his uncle. On the other hand, Hamlet’s sufferings are so strong that they cloud his vision of the world at large. Hamlet’s usage of words and phrases, especially referring to his mother, indicates that he can’t think clearly and his mind is blurred. Shakespeare presents the reader with a hero whose emotions are too perplexed and who is lost in his own thoughts: somehow Hamlet’s inability to retaliate for his father’s murder is connected up with the feelings of hatred towards his mother. This paper, by referring to the themes and characters presented in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, argues that the protagonist of this play is mad, as evident by his actions, inconsistency of thoughts, and violent behavior.
Hamlet looses any sense in his life after he learns of his mother’s unfaithfulness. He seems to associate his mother with the world as it is -- shallow and corrupt -- and his father with the world as it should be. His mother is all flesh, representing change and decay: “Frailty, thy name is woman! … a beast that wants discourse of reason”; and his father is now spirit, representing constant perfection: “So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother” (Shakespeare 26; Act I, Scene I). What is more, such is division extended to other characters. Hamlet calls the innocent young Ophelia as a whore, assimilating her to his mother, and he idolizes Horatio as the perfectly honest man, unchanging in the contrary winds of fortune.
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The complexity of Hamlet’s character then appears around two poles: misjudgment and idealism. He hates women because he associates them with change and deception: they paint their faces, they say one thing and mean another, and they pretend to love their husbands but then seek sexual satisfaction wherever they can find it. In fact, they are motivated by sexuality alone-- so overpowered by desire that they will say or do anything. This drives Hamlet to thoughts of death as an escape from such a world of deceit and hypocrisy. But then he thinks of the Christian hell, where souls are damned for murder and suicide to eternal torment. His inability to act is then doubly determined: nothing in this life is worth doing, and certainly nothing is worth doing that costs the soul damnation in the next life. Other characters are perplexed by Hamlet’s behavior, clearly thinking that he could be mad. “He took me by the wrist, and held me hard; And end his being; that done, he lets me go; And, with his head over his shoulder turned He seemed to find his way without his eyes” – exclaims Ophelia in shock after being suddenly approached by Hamlet (Shakespeare 61, Act II, Scene I). As the play progresses, Hamlet shows more signs of distress and lack of clarity in his acts or thoughts. As a typical mad person, he fears everything and distrusts everybody.
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