Madness in Hamlet

Hamlet's madness

Hamlet's melancholy

  • 'He becomes quite melancholic over the death and murder of his father and begins to question life as a result.' - J Wilber. 
  • 'The only defense of this that pathological research has never yet been able to draw a sharp line of demarcation between sanity and insanity' - Haven McClure. 
  • 'Insanity may be a constant but slight and imperceptible over-tension of the nerves as well as the wild raving on a maniac' - Haven McClure
  • Hamlet: 'How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable. Seem to me all the uses of this world!'
  • Hamlet: 'The trappings and the suits of woe.'
  • Hamlet: 'O, that this too solid felsh would melt'.
  • Hamlet: 'Or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon 'gainst self-slaughter!'
  • Hamlet: 'O, what a rogue and a peasant slave am I'. 
  • Hamlet: 'Denmark's a prison.' 
  • Polonius - Claudius: 'Into the madness wherein now he raves, and all we mourn for.'

Madness caused by his fathers ghost

  • Madness in Hamlet is to some degree a punishment or doom, corresponding to the adage'. - Mack
  • 'Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father. Seeing a ghost could indicate that he is already mad.' - J Wilber.  
  • 'He worries that the ghost may actually “be a devil who will betray his soul,” rather than the actual ghost of his father' - Frye
  • Hamlet - Laertes: 'I am punished. with a sore distraction!'
  • Hamlet: 'The spirit that I have seen may be a devil; and the devil hath power T' assume a pleasing shape'.

Hamlet's unconscious desire for his mother

  • Hamlet is able to do anything...except take vengeance on the man who did away with his father and took that father's place with his mother, the man who shows him the repressed wishes of his own childhood realized. ' - Sigmund Freud. 
  • 'Hamlet's second guilty wish had thus also been realized by his uncle...the possession of the murder of the father. ' Jones.
  • 'In reality his uncle incorporates the deepest and most buried part of his own personality, so that he cannot kill him without also killing himself.' - Jones.
  • 'Towards the end of Hamlet's interview with his mother the thought of her sexual misconduct expresses itself in that almost physical disgust that is so characteristic of intensely repressed feeling' - Jones. 
  • Hamlet - Horatio: 'He that hath killed my king and whored my mother.'
  • Hamlet - Gertrude:'Good night—but go not to mine uncle’s bed.'
  • Hamlet - Gertrude: 'By no means, that I bid you do...let the bloat king tempt you again to bed'.
  • Hamlet - Gertrude: 'Call you his mouse, and let him, for a pair of reechy kisses'.

Hamlet's mistreatment of Ophelia

  • Hamlet's attitude towards Ophelia is 'without a doubt one of the greatest puzzles of the play' - J Domer Wilson.
  • Hamlet - Ophelia: 'You should not have believed me...I love you not'.
  • Hamlet - Ophelia: 'Get thee to a nunnery'
  • Hamlet in Ophelia's grave: 'I loved Ophelia.


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