In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet’s mental state keeps him from avenging his father despite his overwhelming proof and various opportunities and means to do so. However, Hamlet’s state of mind is reflective of what many people experience throughout life - self doubt, hesitation, and fear of failure. Hamlet’s madness may also be interpreted as anger or as intense enthusiasm which could represent Hamlet, despite the other’s perspective of him. However, throughout the book, the most apparent usage of the word “madness” is in describing Hamlet or the reason for Hamlet’s actions. Despite this, Hamlet carries reason behind each action and although Claudius murdered his father, murdering him would also turn Hamlet into a murderer, something that modern thought would warn us is wrong. Hamlet’s “madness” could be considered an unrelenting use of the truth in his arguments which leaves people calling him mad. First mention of Hamlet’s sanity comes as him, Horatio, and Marcellus pursue the ghost of Hamlet’s father in the castle.
What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o 'er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other, horrible form
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? Think of it.
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fadoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath. (1.4.77-86)
The two guards…