Hamlet-Identity Crisis Essay

1925 Words Oct 11th, 2001 8 Pages
Shakespeare's Hamlet is arguably one of the best plays known to English literature. It presents the protagonist, Hamlet, and his increasingly complex path through self discovery. His character is of an abnormally complex nature, the likes of which not often found in plays, and many different theses have been put forward about Hamlet's dynamic disposition. One such thesis is that Hamlet is a young man with an identity crisis living in a world of conflicting values.

An identity crisis can be defined as 'a psychosocial state or condition of disorientation and role confusion occurring especially in adolescents as a result of conflicting internal and external experiences, pressures, and expectations and often producing acute anxiety.'
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Get thee to a nunnery, go;… and quickly, too." (3: 1, 136-141)

His abominable treatment of Ophelia, the woman he supposedly loved as "forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love"(5:1, 279-280), merely consolidates his hatred for women. These contradicting emotions, love for Ophelia and hatred of women, would have Hamlet in a state of confusion about his treatment of her. Perhaps this show of disgust towards Ophelia is another showing of his antic disposition, real or feigned. His mention of the nunnery could be a plea for Ophelia to escape the tragedy he feels is approaching. The confusion caused by his conflicting emotions towards Ophelia is symptomatic of a crisis in his nature.

This crisis became apparent in the first act,when Hamlet tells Horatio that he will "put an antic disposition on." At first his madness is clearly feigned as he would snap back to reality and then to madness again very quickly as easily, but towards the end of the play, his heightened emotional state leaves a blurry line between his feigned madness and his sane actions. Most of the other characters cannot tell whether he is mad or not, but some give their thoughts on the matter. Polonius is of the opinion that it is unrequited love that drives Hamlet insane, Gertrude thinks that is was the untimely death of King Hamlet and

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