Even though the Ghost instructs Hamlet not to “contrive against thy mother aught” (I.v), Hamlet’s disgust with his mother’s sex life mounts as the play continues: when he finally confronts Gertrude he paints a picture of her “honeying and making love over the nasty sty” (III.iii).
Hamlet demonstrates a similar attitude to Ophelia’s sexuality, telling her “Get thee to a nunnery” rather than become “a breeder of sinners” (III.i).
Hamlet’s most mad-seeming outburst, against Ophelia, may be explained by the fact that Claudius and Polonius are spying on the conversation: if Hamlet suspects that he’s being spied on, he may be acting more deranged than he really is for the benefit of his listeners.
If Hamlet does know that Claudius and Polonius are listening, the fact that he can instantly adjust his behavior points toward the idea that he has a firm grip on reality and his own mind.
Despite the evidence that Hamlet is actually mad, we also see substantial evidence that he is just pretending.
Hamlet Madness Essay Arguable Research Paper Topics
The most obvious evidence is that Hamlet himself says he is going to pretend to be mad, suggesting he is at least sane enough to be able to tell the difference between disordered and rational behavior.
Later Hamlet wonders the same thing, asking whether the Ghost’s story was a trick played on him by the Devil, “Out of my weakness and my melancholy,/As he is very potent with such spirits” ().
The possibility that Hamlet is mad when the play begins forces us to question the truth of everything he says, making his character even more mysterious.
Hamlet is greatly disturbed by the fact that his mother does not mourn longer for his fathers death and conveys his anger about this subject on several occasions.
The marriage of a man to his sister in law is thought incestuous by the church and contributes to the overall lack of decency in this story.