Sanity: Boundaries of the Mind
The mind is a beautiful thing. The boundaries that someone can extend their
rationality is different in each and every person. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the
balance of sanity and madness is tested. Hamlet’s way of thinking is changed,
but in a way that his personality is only a front. By looking at the different
events that Hamlet overcame, we can observe the passion for acting that many
readers do not come across; knowing the importance of acting is imperative when
questioning Hamlet’s sanity, since he is only acting insane, and is rational and
in control of himself throughout the play.
For those who do not recall the story of Hamlet, this play is one of revenge,
scandal, and lies. Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is living a life that one
would not want to live. His father, the King, was murdered by his brother, who
is now married to Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet beings his brilliant acting and
conniving when he learns that he must avenge his father’s murder. Not only does
Hamlet fool his family when acting insane, but the genius of his work has fooled
critics all along.
As the play begins, the ever popular question “Who’s there?” “Betrays the
insecurity of Hamlet’s world” (Salkeld and Shakespeare). Starting the play with
a question was pure genius on Shakespeare’s part; the symbolism of the
questionable state of Denmark which is “in a state of shock and confusion,”
along with the people in it, leads the readers right into the questionably
unstable life of Hamlet (Salkeld, Strachey). In act I, scene V of the play, the
audience learns of the “antic disposition” that Hamlet will be putting on
(Shakespeare). In this scene, he tells the audience that he plans to act insane
in order to get away with killing Claudius. He believes that by acting insane no
one will suspect him of doing anything such as that. To many critics the “whole
conduct of Hamlet’s madness is too ludicrous” and in fact he has really gone mad
( Stubbers). For Hamlet to come out and say that he is planning to act insane
is, on the other hand, “purely and adequately a man of genius” (Strachey).
Hamlet’s ability to imitate someone who is insane is astonishing. His ability to
do so is what has confused readers and critics. Not only can his sanity be seen,
but throughout different scenes his control and stability shine through.
When Hamlet comes up with the idea to put on a play, which he calls The
“Mouse-trap” the readers can see that under the complete ciaos there is a
brilliant mind at work. All along Hamlet had been trying to prove that Claudius
has killed King Hamlet and the play was the perfect way to do it. The
“Mouse-trap” is about the murder of a king, meant to be King Hamlet, and the
murder was of a king dying by poison being put into his ear, exactly the way
that Claudius had killed King Hamlet. Hamlet wanted to see the guilty...