Hamlet: From Feigning Madness to Authentic Madness

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Hamlet: From Feigned Madness to Authentic Madness

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a most mysterious and complex character, his psyche probably being the subject of more psychoanalysis than any other character in English literature. Hamlet is a play about the main character, Hamlet, plotting vengeance against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered his father, Old Hamlet, and has taken over his kingdom of Denmark. Not too often do we come across such a story in which a man who feigns his madness ultimately immerses himself so deep into this fabrication to a point of actually assuming authentic madness, as is the case in this drama. Though Hamlet initially feigned his madness, this madness progressively overcame him and transpired into an authentic lunacy.

Shakespeare suggests some instability in Hamlet's mind even before learning of his father's murder. Before Hamlet is aware of his father's ghost, his father's spirit begins to haunt his mind: "My father- methinks I see my father/ In my mind's eye  (I. ii. 184-185). The fact that Hamlet sometimes imagines the presence of his father suggests that his mind is becoming unsettled under the trauma of his father's death. Upon hearing of his father's death, Hamlet also had to cope with his mother's hasty marriage to Claudius. Then, after the appearance of his father's ghost, Hamlet finds out that his

father was actually murdered by Claudius. The news of his father's death must have been devastating enough, then comes his mother's speedy remarriage, and then comes the news of his father's murder. All of this must have been too overwhelming for Hamlet that he just could not cope with all of his feelings and emotions.

The single event that initially drives Hamlet into madness is his encounter with the Ghost. Before this personal encounter, Horatio warns him of the danger of followin

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