Hamlet: “I swear, I’m not crazy.”


Despite Hamlet’s not being in his right mind, he demonstrates a very effective capacity for rational thought. Obviously, this play portrays Hamlet as a dark, brooding individual who takes the death of his father overly hard. However, his plan to come up with evidence of the murder of his father shows that Hamlet is much more cunning and witty than we realize. As Hamlet moves toward the conclusion of his lengthy monologue at the end of Act 2, Scene 2, he says, “The spirit that I have seen may be a devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps…abuses me to damn me…the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” This quote is significant because, in my view, it answers one of the central questions of the play, which is whether or not Hamlet is crazy, and demonstrates Hamlet’s intellect. Yes, Hamlet seems like a dark, depressed, brooding individual, but this quote shows that he has a rational side. For starters, he doesn’t totally believe everything the ghost told him. He says how the spirit may have been a “devil” that “abuses me to damn me,” showing that he doesn’t totally take stock in the story of an angry ghost, or rationally doubts his own sanity by questioning the existence of the ghost in the first place. This quote seems to show that Hamlet can effectively take stock of a situation and not base his quest for revenge solely on his overflowing emotions. Secondly, by saying that the “play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king,” Hamlet shows that he is rational because he wants to have proof for himself that Claudius really killed his father. All in all, by reading deeper into this quote it becomes apparent that Hamlet isn’t an overemotional, over reactive individual. Despite his deep emotion, he still has the capacity for rational thought and is cunning and sane enough to come up with a plan to gain further proof of Claudius’s treachery.

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One comment

  1. Your response was incredibly thoughtful and well written along with being thorough enough to explain exactly where your proof was. I definitely am in agreement with your claim that “Despite Hamlet’s not being in his right mind, he demonstrates a very effective capacity for rational thought.” I didn’t really think about this being a claim as much as I thought of it as something subconsciously in my mind until I read your post. Hamlet is so clever with working his plan into a play, and using such a sneaky way to find out the truth about his Uncle’s contribution to his father’s ill fate. Shakespeare shows tremendous wit sneaking this into his writing. He shows creativity and thoughtful depth in his work. It forces you to make conclusions without them being stated in an obvious manner. You picked up on a really great example of one and explained the claim, warranted it, and then successfully interpreted it. Great job, you provoked a lot of deeper interpretations for me and really made me think about all of Hamlet’s other actions and what their purpose was.

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