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Hamlet: A Sane Character Essay

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The story Hamlet was composed by the playwright William Shakespeare, and is regarded as a timeless piece in both literature and theatre. Now, over four hundred years after Hamlet was written, society still continues to analyze its complex characterization (Reiss 769). In a Psychiatric Times article, twentieth century physician Alan Stone says, “Even today in our era of cultural diversity, Shakespeare remains the greatest figure of world literature, performed on every continent, surviving translation” (Allan 20). The protagonist Hamlet is a particularly multifaceted character. He is an intelligent being who appears to have been overcome by self-conflict due to the sudden murder of his father, the King of Denmark. The transgressions of the murderer, his uncle Claudius, drive Hamlet to a point of questionable sanity. It is Hamlet’s psyche which is a large topic of scholarly debate concerning the play. “Shakespeare’s understanding of the human condition miraculously transcends his culture and place,” says Stone (Allan 20). Shakespeare had a particular interest in the human mind, mental conditions, and nosology. Upon evaluation of Hamlet’s sanity, it becomes apparent that these subjects are present in the play. The subject of Hamlet’s sanity is a vastly complex but not necessarily unexplainable topic. There is arguably evidence to support the protagonist’s sanity with: the seven soliloquies, the psychoanalysis of Hamlet’s character, and the utterance Hamlet makes in Act III.

To begin, the seven soliloquies serve as a strong testament to Hamlet’s sanity because they convey his coherence like no other remarks made in the play. As the story digresses, there is an apparent shift in Hamlet’s demeanor. The rivaling question is, is Hamlet...


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...Marian. "Hamlet’s seven soliloquies." Philip Allan Literature Guide (for A-Level): Hamlet. Oxfordshire: Trans-Atlantic Publications, 2011. . Print.

Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear. Boston R.G. Badger, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet/antichamlet.html >.

Reiss, Benjamin. "Bardolatry in Bedlam: Shakespeare, Psychiatry, and Cultural Authority in Nineteenth-Century America." ELH. Vol. 72. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP., 2005. 769-97. Print. No. 4.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1603. Reprint. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1992. Print.

Stone, Alan A. "Shakespeare and Psychiatry: A Personal Meditation." Psychiatric Times 30: 20-21. ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source. Web. 5 May 2014.


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