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Hamlet Madness An An Identity Crisis

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Throughout William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the writer displays the protagonist as someone who thinks of himself inferior to others, yet he rationalizes the choices he makes in his life. On these two occasions you either can contemplate whether or not he is even mad or is he just putting it off as an act to prove a point. Hamlet undergoes several tragedies that lead him to act increasingly mad rather than feigned. His madness is revealed in his identity crisis and his inability to revenge his father’s murder due to his constant overthinking.

Hamlet is a self-loathing character who thinks very low of himself and constantly compares himself to other individuals. This continuously affects his anger and how he reacts with it upon others in life. In his second soliloquy Hamlet expresses severe hate towards himself; he believes that he is the only one to blame for his father’s death. Hamlet does not seem to comprehend why he of all people has to avenge his father’s death, and expresses himself as someone who is nothing. He assumes his life has no meaning. Hamlet immediately states, “oh, what a rogue and peasant slave I am!” (Shakespeare. 2.2. 545). Hamlet compares himself to a slave, someone who has no identity, which demonstrates that he believes he does not deserve what he has in life. Hamlet constantly wonders why he was faced with all of his priorities and compares himself to others; such as the actor that tells a fake tale, but in his mind he relates it to his own life and struggles to conclude his actions cannot match with the actor’s emotions towards the story. Hamlet clashes as he says how “it not monstrous that this player here, but in a fiction, in a dream of passion, could force his soul so to his own conceit that from her working visage wanted, tears in his eyes.” (2.2. 546-550) He cannot seem to recognize how an actor can bring out so much emotion when expressing a fake story, whereas his is a real-life version of the tale, and assumes that it is much more challenging to find any meaning to it. Hamlet speculates how the actor could easily make people feel guilty from his expressions, and he will not grasp how he is supposed to meet up to his levels of empathy. His anger is brought into perspective because he is angry at himself for not being able to do what others can do and he thinks he needs these traits in order to avenge his father.

Hamlet has absolutely no faith in himself, in which is also shown through his melancholy. It is presented throughout the whole play, however, when connecting it to his anger it truly affects his thought and his action towards others. This is mainly presented in his first silioquy when he is first dealing with his fathers death and the incest his mom committed instantly after. He repeatedly criticizing his mother and the acts she has done with his uncle Claudius, he looks at her with disgust because she is one of the reasons why he feels so helpless to this situation. He thought this out as if he and his mother would mourn together though, “Within a month, Let me not think on’t, Frailty, thy name is woman! A Little month; or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my poor father’s body.” (1.2 145-148) He illustrates here that the shoes she wore to his beloved fathers funeral were not worn before the shameless marriage Gerturude and Claudius shared. Hamlet’s anger starts out here because it’s as if his mother never loved Hamlet Sr, she showed no empathy towards his death and moved on as though he was never in her life. He constantly reminded his mother of what a loathsome marriage she was presenting to Denmark that was based off of incest. The new king and his mother have set out a poor representation of Denmark and have brought Hamlet into it, and he wants no part of it. This affects who he is and he shows how he feels through his anger, the one person to blame is his gruesome uncle who has turned the one place he used to call home, a peaceful and democartic place into a corrupt place he never could never have imagined that he would be forced to represent.

One of Hamlet’s tragic flaws is most definitely his inability to act upon any given situation, which leads to his melancholy. He constantly overthinks his plans and talks himself out of what he is “destined” to do. He knows he should avenge his father’s death, however, second-guesses himself every chance he receives. Even when he is faced with several opportunities of seeking revenge for his father’s death he still continuously backs away from it, due to fear of rejection from his loved ones. His first cause of anger can be seen in his second soliloquy when he says “who calls me villain? Breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face? tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i’th’ throat as deep as to the lungs? Who does this to me this?” (2.2. 574-577) He fears of being seen as the fool instead of Claudius and suspects that no one will believe him. This forces him to second guess himself because of him overthinking every possible out come of his plan to find out the truth about his uncle.

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Whether or not if Claudius did murder his father, although he is unaware of the truth, he fails to act upon his plan of descovering who killed his Hamlet Sr because of this flaw. Hamlet certainly has an idea of who he is, a melancholic and what he is obligated to do but is constantly hard on himself because he can’t let go of his thoughts of what if?

Hamlet suffers from this flaw again when his uncle Claudius is praying and he is sitting right beside him as he acknowledges his sins during his confession. Hamlet is opened to a great opportunity to avenge his father by killing Claudius. All he had to do was push the dagger through the screen, though, once again he steps back and rethinks his plan. He contemplates whether he should kill him or not when Hamlet states “and am I then revenged, to take him in the purging of his soul, when he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No,” (3.3. 84-97) he illustrates the fact that Claudius will not receive the full punishment he deserves if he goes through with the act. This is due to the fact that if he kills him during the act of prayer then he will ascend to heaven. Hamlet wants to avoid this for reasons that Claudius will instantly be forgiven for his sins, this would be the complete opposite of the revenge he contemplates he deserves. He wants Hamlet to suffer in every way possible and give him the same circumstances his father was faced with before his death. Hamlet gets frustrated with himself because at this point he is defeated by the fact that he has failed with is goal and worries that he wasn’t put out for this task. He takes out his anger on himself mainly as a result of him not fulfilling Hamlet Sr’s wishes.

With this recurring thought that Hamlet can not complete his goal of killing Claudius, it follows him through Act 4 Scene 4 in his soliloquy when he compares himself with the brave acts of Fortinbras. Fortinbras story that presents the devotion he served his people when he saved a small piece of land that forced him to sacrifice his entire army. Hamlet immediately resents himself due to the fact that he cannot show the same determination in killing Claudius. He then announces “oh this time fort, may my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth, (4.4. 64-66) which presents that due to these honourable acts of Fortinbras he needs achieve the same standards that he has and honour his father by killing the man who took him away. This could easily be a turning point for Hamlet, depending on whether or not he will go through with killing his uncle.


Hamlet is faced with several obstacles throughout his life which started with the death of his admired father. His main goal throughout the play is to avenge the death of his father by killing the man who is to blame, his uncle Claudius. This goal of his is constantly set back due to his flaw of over analyzing every opportunity he is presented with to killing Claudius. Followed by Hamlet’s feelings towards himself and how he defeats his pride by not being able to go through with his task. These factors are observed throughout the play repeatedly which force him to take out his anger on the people he loves most, including himself. His madness is presented throughout his actions as well as his soliloquies about his feelings towards each conflict in the play. Nevertheless Hamlet proves to his readers that he is in fact mad and frustrated because his life has been falling apart as soon as his father was killed.

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Hamlet Madness An An Identity Crisis. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
“Hamlet Madness An An Identity Crisis.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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Hamlet Madness An An Identity Crisis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Oct 2]. Available from:
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