There are many ways one could argue whether or not Hamlet is insane or that he really is a psycho killer. Along those lines, I believe that Hamlet did in fact go completely bonkers and everything that happened that was not in the presence of the king or queen was just a figment of his imagination. After contemplating this I’ve made up a conclusion why exactly I think he is insane.
In act 1, scene 4, line 68, Horatio says to Hamlet, “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? ” This is a good example of foreshadowing because the ghost reveals that Claudius has killed him, which persuades Hamlet to take action and avenge his father.
Although Horatio sees the ghost as well, he tries to convince Hamlet that interacting with the supernatural could lead him to negative consequences, ergo the reason for him going insane. Horatio and Marcellus think it’s just his imagination running wild, like he wants to to believe that everything the ghost is saying is true and that he’s not crazy for thinking it. I feel that in the beginning of the story Hamlet seemed completely sane, he was not very content about the situation with his mother and Claudius, but not crazy.
It wasn’t until after the first encounter with the ghost however, that I started to believe Hamlet begins his insanity. He says to Marcellus and Horatio in act 1, scene 5, line 169, “Here as before, never, so help you mercy, how strange or odd some’er I bear myself (as I perchance hereafter shall meet to put an antic disposition on) that you, at such times seeing me, never shall with arms encumb’red thus, or this headshake. ” To sum that up, what he is saying is sometime in the near future it may be appropriate to act a little crazy.
I think at this point Hamlet is deciding whether or not it was the actual ghost of his father he just encountered or if he’s just nuts in the head. At this point, there isn’t a logical explanation for why he would just “act” a little crazy if it wasn’t actually true. In act 2, scene 2, line 207, Polonius catches wind of Hamlet adopting this “antic disposition” (i. e. going insane) when he says “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t. ” If Polonius can figure that out, then there must be some grounds to it.
The problem with this idea is that Hamlet actually says to Laertes just before their duel in act 5, scene 2, line 139, that him killing Polonius “was madness” and that he can’t take any responsibility for it because it wasn’t him who performed the act. There’s a couple of ways to look at this now: Hamlet was temporarily mad for only the instant that he killed Polonius. Or two, Hamlet wants to fool himself into believing that he did no wrong and cannot be held responsible for Polonius’ death.
There are two groups of characters in the play, one that see the ghost of Hamlet’s father (Horatio, Bernardo, Marcellus… ect. ) and the ones who don’t (Claudius, Polonius, Gertrude… ect. ) These two groups never actually interact with each other until the final scene of the play. It leaves me to wonder if Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo are just as non-existent to the other characters as is the ghost. The only detail that is so subconscious but also a huge part of the story is that Hamlet interacts with all the characters in the story while they do not all interact with one another.
Which then finally leads me to think that the ghost as well as the characters that see the ghost are just a figment of his imagination. I am in an existential quandary of whether or not those characters are even real of if Hamlet made them up to make himself seem sane. Although this all might seem quite perplexing, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hamlet hates Claudius for stealing his mother’s love and now he wants to kill him. Basically, I believe Hamlet sees the ghost as a real entity, but in reality he is using the ghost as a way of persuading himself that killing Claudius is the right thing to do.