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Hamlet is Mad
In Shakespeare\'s Hamlet, Hamlet is faced with emotional and physical hardship. The suffering that he endures causes his character to develop certain idiosyncrasies. Morality has a significant importance to Hamlet. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet possesses a strong sense of morality. A sense that is stronger than all other characters. Hamlet\'s actions and feelings are controlled by his morality. His morality grows weaker as the play progresses. Hamlet\'s opinions toward the characters within the play are determined by his moral standpoint. As the play goes on, Hamlet\'s tendency of thinking too much causes him to become mad. Hamlet\'s focal problem is his madness.
As the play progresses, Hamlet\'s moral perspective on life begins to alter. The first change in his morality occurred following Hamlet\'s first visit from the ghost. Hamlet is told by the ghost to avenge his father\'s murder. If Hamlet\'s morality was as strong as it was in the beginning of the play, he would have immediately opposed the ghost. However, he did not oppose the thought of murdering his father\'s murderer. Hamlet will have a continuous struggle whether to carry out the ghost\'s deed or to act morally throughout the play. If, throughout, Hamlet is prevented from enacting his revenge by the discomforting ratios that his literary imitations generate, he is equally prevented from repudiating his revenge by his inability to emancipate himself from his father, to be other than an imitation of what has generated him(Kastan 204).
Toward the end of the play, Hamlet has abandoned the strong sense of morality that he once possessed. He no longer debated the morality of his every action. His true thoughts now controlled his actions. Hamlet\'s action following his mother\'s death is a strong example of his true feelings. After stabbing Claudius, Hamlet forces him to drink from the poisoned wine saying, "Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dame, Drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother(The king dies.)"(5.2 327-329).
Hamlet does not only value his own morality, but also the morality of others. Besides worrying about his own morality, his mother\'s morality has much significance to him. As Robert Luyster states, "Hamlet would have Gertrude, like himself, become purified, but this can only be done through the acceding to consciousness\' claim to be hard"(Luyster 77). Hamlet contemplates his every action. This problem eventually overwhelms him while also causing his madness. The depth of his thought concerning the murder of Claudius following Hamlet\'s play reveals his madness. "Reason and action are not opposed in Hamlet, but for most of the play, they fail to coalesce as either we or the characters would like them to" (Kastan 48).
Throughout the play, Hamlet questions his every action. Elliot writes, "Claudius, to be sure, according to the Ghost\'s story, has obtained the throne by killing a king. But that is a main motive for Hamlet\'s not doing likewise; the ways of his uncle are precisely those that the prince is most reluctant to follow"( Elliot 27). Hamlet does not want to obtain the throne the same way in which Claudius has, through murder. Hamlet even thinks about Claudius\'s life after death. An example of his thought is in Act III, Scene III, line 73. Hamlet says, "Now might I do it pat, now ‘a is praying; And now I\'ll do ‘t. (He draws his sword.) And so ‘a goes to heaven. And so I am revenged. That would be scanned: A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven(III, III, 73-78)." He says here that he has his chance to kill his father\'s murderer but he is praying. By killing him while he is praying, his soul goes to heaven. If he murdered him at that time, it would not be revenge. Any other person would have murdered him at that point. However, Hamlet\'s obsession with thinking it through stopped him. Hamlet possesses little or no morality at this time. He is no longer thinking of his own soul, but the future of someone else. For this reason, he refuses to kill the king when he is at his prayers, and by a refinement in malice, which is in truth only an excuse for his own want
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Characters in Hamlet, Hamlet, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Horatio, Ghost, The Gravediggers, Critical approaches to Hamlet
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