Two of the characters that showed signs of insanity are Claudius and Ophelia. Hamlet faked his madness at the beginning of the play for the sake of revenge for his father. However, later he was indeed behaving like a mad man.
Other than revenge, one of the main topics in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is madness. Readers can question Claudius’s sanity, who killed his brother seizing power over Denmark. Yet it does not imply he is mad. In the scene where he prays, he experiences guilt. Worrying about the consequences of his actions on his soul, he may be in the right mind. If he were insane, he would not be able to separate evil from good.
Another character in Hamlet that went insane is Ophelia. Shakespeare provides little background information about Ophelia. So it is difficult to find the reason for her madness. At first glance, she may seem insane about her father’s death. However, the real reason might lie in the society she lived in. Women of that age lacked power and depended on men who were responsible for almost all the decisions. Madness for Ophelia means the ability to express the full range of emotions that she had to hide. She saw death as a necessary action. It points to her spirit’s weakness and inability to deal with the situation.
One of the scenes in which Hamlet pretends to be a mad man is when he speaks to Ophelia in her room. This allowed him to convince people that he is crazy because of his love for her. He suspected Ophelia to describe the incident to her father and the king. Accomplishing his plan was at the cost of Ophelia’s mental well-being. She could not understand why Hamlet was behaving this way and what was the cause of his actions.
Later, Hamlet got the advantage of his madness trick by inviting a troupe of actors who had to play his father’s murder. The purpose of this reenactment is to see Claudius’s reaction to understand whether he is guilty or not. When Claudius considers the scene of the murder, he suddenly leaves the room. It makes Hamlet think that Claudius is guilty. This scene proves the protagonist’s sanity as he acts like someone in his right mind and controls his emotions. The definition of insanity states that the person loses the connection with reality. It makes them unable to determine wrong from right. Hamlet is sane as he did not lose touch with reality.
However, some scenes showed Hamlet as a mad man. For example, his misogynistic behavior towards Ophelia and Gertrude represents him going insane. He experiences strong feelings and can’t deal with them. Both women feel a genuine affection for Hamlet. Despite this, he treats Ophelia and Gertrude with suspicion and paranoia. Thinking that he can no longer correctly understand other people’s intentions, he becomes cruel and unstable. Thus, Hamlet’s madness was revealed slowly by the end of the play.