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English British Literature Grade 12
To be Insane, or not to be insane!
In the everyday world we deal with the problems of insanity and the benefits of sanity. William Shakespeare shows these problems in old English times with one of his most famous plays, Hamlet. This tragic drama is of a man dealing with his father?s death and having to plan revenge against his uncle. He puts on a fa?ade of insanity so that the people around him don?t know that he knows about his Uncle and his mother?s treachery. Hamlet is completely sane throughout the entire play. Things that show that he is in his right mind are these. He sees right through the fa?ade that people put up. He remembers his religious beliefs when he considers certain actions that would cause him to go to hell. He KNOWS he?s acting insane; he plans every move that he makes.
Strangely enough, some readers may believe that Hamlet is insane throughout the play. They may say that he is insane because he killed Polonius. Maybe they?ll say that he?s insane because he goes crazy on his mom and Ophelia. Then again some may say he is insane because he?s the only one who sees the ghost the second time in his mom?s room. None of these reasons have enough evidence to prove the opinions.
No matter what people may say to defend that Hamlet is insane, the truth is that he is not insane. First of all he can see through the people that try to put on a front in his face. For example, when the King and Queen tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet, he sees through them and knows that they were sent for by his Mom and Uncle: ?You were sent for?I know the good King and Queen have sent for you.? (Act 2, scene 2). When he says this to them they admit that the King and Queen did in fact send for them to spy on him. Also, Hamlet wishes to believe that Ophelia is as honest as she is beautiful. He tests her with a question: ?Are you honest??Where is your father??Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in?s own house.? (Act 3, scene 1). When she replies with a lie, he knows that she cannot be trusted. And, when he is sent to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he knows that there is something up with this trip. So in the middle of the night on the boat he searches through their bags: ??fingered through their packet?where I found, Horatio?an exact command?my head should be struck off.? (Act 5, scene 2). Using this newfound information he was able to send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths.
Secondly, Hamlet knows his religious beliefs and won?t defy them. When he finds out that his Uncle has killed his father and plans to kill him, he thinks of when to kill him. At one time Claudius is kneeling and Hamlet mistakes him for praying: ?Now he is praying?A villain kills my father; and for that I his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. Why this is hire and salary, not revenge.? (Act3, scene 3). If in fact Claudius had been praying, Hamlet didn?t want to take the chance of sending him to Heaven. Back in Hamlet?s day it was believed that a ghost was either a soul with things left undone or a demon that wants to lead mortals into temptation. When Hamlet sees his father?s ghost, he is unsure of whether he is a demon or a lost soul: ?Angels and ministers of grace defend us! Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned?? (Act 1, scene 4). Not knowing whether this ghost is good or evil, Hamlet devises the plan to prove Claudius? guilt. During Hamlet?s first soliloquy he considers suicide, but because of his religion he does not because it is a mortal sin: ??or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ?gainst self-slaughter!? (Act 1, scene 2). Hamlet knew that if he did commit suicide then he would go to Hell.
Finally, throughout the play Hamlet knows that he is acting insane for these people around him. When his father?s ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius killed him then Hamlet makes a plan so that they don?t know anything is going on: ?As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put on an antic disposition?? (Act 1, scene 4). This is his first decision to act crazy in front of the deceiving people around him. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern confront him about how his parents think that he is crazy, he explains to them that he is not: ?I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.? (Act 2, scene 2). This is the second time that he professes that he is in fact not crazy but acting crazy. Then when Polonius is talking to Hamlet privately and Hamlet is making jokes at his expense, Polonius notices something: ?Though this be madness, yet there is method in?t.? (Act 2, scene 2). Even Polonius sees that there is something wrong with the insanity that Hamlet is showing to everyone.
Using this information I can say that it is easy to see that Hamlet is completely sane throughout the entire play. He saw through people?s fronts that they tried to put up in front of him. He kept his religion in his mind at all times. If he didn?t do that he would have killed himself first before getting to Claudius, then he would have gone to Hell. Mainly though, he knows the whole time what he?s doing. Why do you think that he talks to himself so much? He?s making plans on how to keep up his fa?ade. Someone who is insane would probably not keep his religious beliefs in mind while getting ready to commit a murder. There are so many reasons why Hamlet was sane and these are the best ones.