Hamlet's insanity

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Shakespeare's play Hamlet is about a young prince whose father was assassinated by the king's brother, and in exchange, he marries his wife, Hamlet's mother. In the end, the prince was deposed from his legitimate throne when his mother remarried his son, rendering him king. However, Hamlet is dissatisfied with his mother's decision, and he is suspicious of how his father died. When his father's ghost came to him, his fears were confirmed. Claudius, his friend, poured poison into his ears as he was sleeping, according to the ghost. Therefore, he wanted Claudius to avenge his death. It marked the beginning of Hamlet’s madness and his plan to kill the new King.

"His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy"

This statement is justified by numerous actions and circumstances which Hamlet should have acted to kill the King but avoided because he was blinded by madness and anger. The first case took place when he organized troupe players to perform a play by the name The murder Gonzogo to which he deliberately added a scene that recreated how Claudius killed his father. As Hamlet hoped, the king's reaction justified that he was indeed a villain and was responsible for the death of his father (Shakespeare 1.4.22). However, instead of killing the king, he was controlled by his madness thus had conscious clouding his mind.

At a particular moments during the play, the most accurate assessment of Hamlet’s madness shows that his insanity blocked his reasoning thus becoming his enemy. Hamlet certainly displays high degree of instability, a fact that makes him lose himself and carry certain action such as resorting to kill six ancillaries, among them his girlfriend's father. Perhaps his madness was too purposeful and drove us to conclude that he could not make some decisions. One fact that justifies to us that Hamlet madness was his enemy is the episode when he killed Gertrude in the Queens chamber. He could not think that by killing the King’s servant would drive the king into punishing him either by death or exile. He said that “Conscience doth make cowards of us all” (Shakespeare 3.4.12).

The fact that Ophelia decided to commit suicide is also as a result of his madness and his undoing because if Hamlet had not been blinded by the madness, he would not have killed Polonius the father to his girlfriend neither would he has neglected his girlfriend (Hamlet 1.4.21). Through this acts, Ophelia felt distraught and lost hope hence committing suicide. The consequences later harmed Hamlet as he lost his girlfriend and had no one to support him.

Furthermore, Hamlet finds himself in a traumatizing and terrifying situation, one which actually consumed his life and the life of his whole family. Due to his anger and madness against King Claudius, he rushed to avenge his fathers’ death without thinking that he was going to provide the King with an opportunity to stage his death. Additionally, even after recognizing the intention of the king, which comprised of being killed by Laertes, Hamlet could not tell what was coming hence showing how his madness became his own enemy.

Explanations of Hamlet's motivation behind the comment that "His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy"

Hamlet’s motivation to be mad and avenge his father's death was firstly fueled by his mother’s marriage to his uncle Claudius. This union made him suspicious of his father’s death and questioned what might have happened to his father. At initial scenes Hamlet was understandably distraught after learning his father’s death. However, the ghost increased this anger by bequeathing him with a role of vengeance. The pressure from his father’s ghost switched him off almost to insanity with the only one purpose of vengeance thereby making him to carry certain action which comes back and harms him which was ascertained as “Brevity is the soul of wit,” (Shakespeare 1.3.20).

The presence of Prince Fortinbras of Norway gave hope and courage for the prince to finally make a revenge for his father’ demise. Blinded by the mixed reaction of achieving his father’s wishes, he propelled his madness even further. Hamlet might become mad but his actions resulted in the formation of moral dilemma. The matter is that he delayed carrying the revenge for the fear of injustice Hamlet might cause if his father was not murdered. He needed a proof to justify the truth hence organization the play. Therefore, with the appearance of Prince Fortinbras he thought that his people would be safe even if he died in his quest to fulfill the father’s wishes.

Hamlet’s anger and madness may have also been speeded the constant distrust by King Claudius which is seen through spies placed on him to check his action and what he was doing. It was the kind of distrust that actually got into Hamlet making him to kill the kings servants. The killings he carried were not only to pave his way and got his freedom back but to execute the revenge.

Furthermore, Hamlet‘s anger must have also been increased by the fact he lost his girlfriend. He must have felt that the death of Ophelia was caused by him due to his negligence and also by killing her father. Hamlet, therefore, showed the only possible way to forgive himself by killing the king which could be interpreted as his madness became his enemy.

Examination on how true Hamlet's remark about "His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy"

Hamlet's comment that his madness was his poor enemy was justified by the fact that it contributed to his death, as well as the death of his mother and girlfriend. It is clearly seen in the play when he neglected his girlfriend and also killed her father. On the same note, his remark that his madness was an enemy is also illustrated when he suddenly left for Denmark with the purpose of kill King Claudius “Though this be madness, yet there is method in't” (Shakespeare 1.3.17).

Moreover, due to madness, he could not foresee the possibilities that the king might have been planning to kill him when he returned. Therefore, the King organized an occasion where Laertes and Hamlet would settle their differences through fighting. It was just a mere plot by the king to kill him since he gave Laertes a poisoned sword to kill Hamlet. Unfortunately, the sword killed both of them.


Throughout this paper, we have seen how Hamlet’s insanity affected him and became his greatest enemy. Furthermore, through this anger and madness he lost his friends, family, and even the love of his life.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1st ed. Dublin: Printed by S. Powell, for Thomas Moore, 1731. Print.

October 25, 2022



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