There is much evidence in the play that Hamlet deliberately feigned fits of madness in order to confuse and disconcert the king and his attendants. His avowed intention to act "strange or odd" and to "put an antic disposition on" 1 I. The latter phrase, which is of doubtful interpretation, should be taken in its context and in connection with his other remarks that bear on the same question. To his old friend, Guildenstem, he intimates that "his uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived," and that he is only "mad north-north-west.
If there have been something like three thousand books and articles published on the play sinceit is because and here I can make one statement without qualification the character of Hamlet continues to puzzle us, and everything written seeks to throw some new light on the mystery.
But it seems to me that the function of plot in Hamlet has been misunderstood, and I shall try to make some fundamental points about the action as the prime mover and substance of the prince's characterization. In general, the critical contest has been between those who would explain the play by finding the key to the mystery of Hamlet's character and those who would reduce it to melodrama and spectacle.
A third team of critics dabbles in philosophical problems, but these do not greatly affect the tides of the major battle.
In the main contest, those who explore the mystery of the character make it the source of the action, whereas those who have insisted on the primacy of the action generally say that the problems of motivation and character in the hero disappear if we consider the play as a rapidly moving, even melodramatic spectacle of bloody violence and revenge.
I should like to look at one or two of these exegeses and then try to look at the play in a completely fresh way. The general terms of the contest, suggested above, are illustrated in the Introduction to Hamlet by my revered teacher at the University of Michigan, O.
Campbell, in The Living Shakespeare His own position and his definition of the opposition are equally interesting. He begins by dismissing as the "speculations of subjective critics" such notions as that "Hamlet was … a brooding 'philosopher of death, a scholar of the night.
Other commentators have assumed that Hamlet's grief has paralyzed his will, so that he is ever at the mercy of a mind involved in ceaseless debate with itself.
Still others," he continues, "explain Hamlet's difficulty as the revulsion of a sensitive nature against the violent revenge which the ghost has ordered him to take.
Professor Campbell acknowledges that many students of the play would reject this interpretation as reducing a great drama to the level of a case history of a sick psyche. They would say that Shakespeare intended to give his characters just enough individuality to perform the deeds in "an exciting story of revenge.
Something very serious is the matter with Hamlet, and the full meaning of the great tragedy will never be clear until critics discover in the drama a conscious So either "something artistic design like the one sketched above. I know that this account of Professor's Campbell's interpretation is somewhat reductive, but I think I have not done violence to the main outlines.
It is perfectly clear that he considers the mystery to be in the character of Hamlet—in what he essentially is as a man, which accounts for how he acts in the play; and he sees the alternative as tending to reduce the hero to a simple figure in a melodrama on the order of the heroes of American Westerns.
Even if Hamlet is not a case history of a diseased mind although the term "manic depressive" makes him dangerously close to being one, in spite of the disclaimerwe must acknowledge the intrusion here of modern psychological concepts of the sort that reduce the self by classifying its eccentricities and putting them in pigeon-holes where they are seen as items in the environment.
The struggle of the diminished self with its environing neuroses is a mystery of exploration and understanding rather than a dramatic action. Pushed far enough, it becomes the story of a naked eyeball suffering the cold winds of the world, absorbing agony while it fights to keep from freezing into a permanent trance of horror.
If Hamlet is the beginning of this transformation, he is so, I would suggest, only as seen in the perspective of hindsight; and yet I will try to show that he must have been seen in his own time as adding a new element to the idea of man. When Pepys wrote in his diary that it was the best play and the best part ever written, he must have been responding to something that, even afterwas still startlingly new.
I think we can identify this element, but let us for a moment consider the range of critical opinion: Lily Bess Campbell5 finds Hamlet a medical case of "sanguine adust," in the Elizabethan terminology; the great Kittredge insists there is no delay but only problems Hamlet must solve i. Stoll reduces the play to a hasty, opportunistic adaptation of an old play, in which revenge predominates and the hero is not to be analyzed but only watched as he flashes from scene to scene in a wild, melodramatic plot.
In every one, the action is of dominating importance, even while it serves to bring out character and, in the process, the poetry which expresses the characters' quality of mind.
In Julius Caesar the story is everything. Its theme moves around the problems of sovereignty and leadership and ambition; it moves through a famous story which has been retold a thousand times.
Hamlet also demonstrates madness when he questions his presense and purpose on earth, and thinks about suicide. Hamlet creates a mysterious and nifty character throughout the play, and with his role playing and acts of madness develops his character in a sane manner. Finally, in examining love between characters, there is one relationship that manages to juxtapose the destructive nature of love, as their strong friendship lasts the entirety of the play. Hamlet and Horatio’s friendship is most prominent in Act 1 Scene 2, where Horatio came of . An Inquiry Into Hamlet’s Madness Essay. In the event of examining the nature of Hamlet”s madness,we will need to probe into Hamlet”s state of mind at .
What the characters become appears in their reactions to great challenges and final decisions; and their importance is writ large on the pages of history. Othello is an overpowering story; what the hero is cannot be conceived apart from the particular action of this play.
Indeed, before this action he was a great soldier and a tremendous leader of men.
A towering hero, he carried the simplicities of heroism, for he lived on a battlestage where he saw his own actions against a prodigious and majestic backdrop. The warrior's simplicity entranced Desdemona and infuriated the subtle Iago, under whose management the plot moved into a labyrinth of horror where the Moor raged, struggled, and destroyed even while he could not find his way from turning to turning.
It is what Othello did that he talks about in the great speech that ends with his suicide. It is what he did, beside which what he previously was is as nothing, for he has become the creature of his horrid act—a new and terrible creature who cannot undo his ghastly mistake. There are two time schemes in Othello.
To achieve the psychological intensity and the headlong rush that keeps the hero from having time to step aside and think, Shakespeare has packed the action into thirty-six hours after the arrival at Cyprus; but to allow for the probabilities of moral growth, that is, to make the canker of suspicion grow to a cancer of jealousy, takes more time, and for this Shakespeare has provided a series of clues that stretch the same events out to three weeks or so.
No member of an audience would ever disentangle the two sets of time clues at a single performance. An actor could perform the part without realizing that they were there. But the artistic depth and validity produced by them is one of the great wonders of the play, as it is of Shakespeare's craft.
Within a single action he has evolved the sort of moral and psychological density that comes from the double plot in Lear. The subtlety and ingenuity of this construction reveals so profound an insight into the function of the action that I do not see how we can turn from it to Hamlet and say that Shakespeare was not really interested in what happend—or that he did not dare to meddle with legendary events that his audience would insist upon seeing unchanged.
No audience over five years old could be so rigid.In Hamlet, Shakespeare takes it up a notch: does Hamlet truly go "mad," or is the cuckoo-talk, like the play itself, all an act? And if madness is a form of theatricality (maybe with some " method " in it, as Polonius says) —does that mean that all actors are crazy?
In the event of examining the nature of Hamlet's madness,we will need to probe into Hamlet's state of mind at different periods and circumstances in the play. Hamlet can be seen to be and not to be mad by different people at different stages.
Julian pulverizable and insignificant doubling his swagger or an analysis of examining the nature of hamlets madness narratively brutified. Mr A Rampton, OBE (Until an analysis of the play the tragedy of julius caesar by william shakespeare May ) Lord Swann, FRSE (From May ).
Hamlet Analysis. STUDY. Claudius spies on Hamlet to discover the true nature of his madness, and Hamlet attempts to "catch the conscience of the king" in the theater (III.i). the common people are disturbed and murmuring among themselves.
This ominous turn of events leads to the truncated, miniature rebellion that accompanies. From Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear by Alexander W. Crawford. There is much evidence in the play that Hamlet deliberately feigned fits of madness in order to confuse and disconcert the king and his attendants.
Analysis On Hamlets Madness Essays: Over , Analysis On Hamlets Madness Essays, Analysis On Hamlets Madness Term Papers, Analysis On Hamlets Madness Research Paper, Book Reports. ESSAYS, term and research papers available for UNLIMITED access.