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By: Manda Freier
In this Character description of Hamlet, I describe Hamlet as smart witty and determined. Near the beginning of the play after Polonius’s death Hamlet appears to be insane. There are indications that persuade me to think otherwise. Certainly, Hamlet has plenty of reasons to be insane at this point, his day has been hectic; he finally determined Claudius had killed his father when the ghost of his father came to visit him and let him know; and with a chance to kill Claudius while confronting him, he comes very close to convincing Gertrude that Claudius killed his father. He also accidentally kills Polonius. These situations are enough to bring Hamlet to insanity, but he remains sharp and credible.
Hamlet is able to make random and unexpected smart remarks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, comparing then to sponges, “When he [Claudius] needs what you have cleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again,” the comparison makes sense; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern soak up all the kings favors, only to become dry again after they mop up the King’s mess of spying on Hamlet, and getting Polonius’s body. Later, with Claudius, Hamlet tells how lowly a king can be by saying, “A man (beggar) may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm, This also makes sense, and is not quite as random; when Hamlet confronts Claudius, and the king asks where Polonius is, Hamlet immediately begins the comparison by telling Claudius that Polonius is at supper (the worms are eating him for supper, and so on). This proves that Hamlet had some kind of planning for this degrading comment, and that his thoughts are not scattered and he is able to stay focused.
There is a question of what being insane really is. Since it is agreeable that Ophelia was crazy, it’s possible to use her as a guide to make this argument valid. Hamlet and Ophelia both shared the trait of having calculated thoughts, Ophelia’s singing and Hamlet’s verbal attacks. They also shared calmness before there deaths. It was Hamlet spraying rude remarks to everyone before he died, as Ophelia had sung floating down the river? No, in-fact Hamlet was the opposite of what he was before. If he were crazy, like Ophelia, he would have remained hectic and random up until the time of (and after) the duel. Hamlet, though, was not–he even reasoned what death for him was, finishing his question of whether life was worth living for. Hamlet can truly be seen to be sane, and not. The facts that Hamlet was smart and swift thinking, and in such a reversal of emotions (from after Polonius died) in the end, leads strongly to the opinion that Hamlet were not insane.