Mental Illness In Hamlet Analysis

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In modern times, society considers auditory and visual hallucinations to be common symptoms of mental illness, and the same can be said at the time of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. These are seen through Prince Hamlet’s interactions with the specter of his father, and his actions thereafter. Other characters in Hamlet observe that Hamlet seems to be “going mad” in his ambitious quest to avenge his father. But, Hamlet is the only character to interact with the ghost, and the ghost advises Hamlet to kill his uncle, Claudius. This results in Hamlet’s murderous fixation on revenge. The existence of this ghost and Hamlet’s interactions with it demonstrates the gradual madness of Hamlet throughout the play. The ghost of King Hamlet makes his initial appearance …show more content…
In other words, he must kill his uncle for killing his father. It is from here that Hamlet learns of the supposed treachery of his uncle, and becomes suspicious of all other actors thereafter. After this, Hamlet begins to demonstrate the traits of a schizophrenic, as he “talks beyond restraint except for periods of mute depression” in his never-ending soliloquies and monologues, and is “most often in a state of suspicion” (Aldus 5). Guildenstern even claims that when interrogating Hamlet, he was “niggard of question, but of our demands most free in his reply” (Shakespeare 3.1.1696-1697). The height of this suspicion is seen when Hamlet hastily kills Polonius, mistaking him for his uncle. The desire to avenge his father drives his suspicion, and isn’t satisfied until his uncle dies. Another trait of a schizophrenic is that at times they may seem normal, “indistinguishable from a normal man” (Aldus 5). A schizophrenic may act extremely normal at times, as seen when Claudius and Polonius begin to question whether Hamlet is mad after Hamlet is able to coherently express his grief and madness. Through demonstrating the traits of this mental illness, Hamlet has shown that he is both mentally deranged and gone mad from his encounter with the ghost of his father, driven by grief and the need for …show more content…
There is plenty of evidence provided in the play to show that Hamlet experiences all of these things after his initial meeting with the specter of his father all the way up until his own death, and there is similar evidence in Ophelia that shows her madness is similar to his own madness, proving that Hamlet is mad after all. Beginning with his depression, regarded as a mental illness, he grieves for the loss of his father and suffers from melancholy. Despite swearing that what he’d seen was real, no one else can interact with this ghost but him, providing evidence of Hamlet’s hallucinations. Following the news of the murder of his father, he falls into paranoia wondering if what he’d seen was real, but soon becomes suspicious of everyone else and becomes fixated on revenge. Additionally, he experiences on-and-off depression, falling into melancholic moods periodically throughout the play, and is unable to express his grief coherently. These are all considered to be symptoms of madness and mental derangement, all of which Hamlet demonstrates. Therefore, the appearance of his father’s specter brings and represents the madness that Hamlet experiences in Shakespeare’s

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