Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Act II -- Hamlet's Madness

Act 2 introduces the theme of maddness. Is Hamlet really mad, or does he pretend to be mad? Consider his encounters with those trying to entrap him (Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) and his use of puns to turn apparently simple language into ironic expressions. Find an example of one of Hamlet's puns and discuss whether is proves him to be mad or something else...

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hamlet pretends to be mad to buy himself some time to think about what the ghost said to him and how to act upon it. When Polonius asks Hamlet what he is reading, Hamlet replies "words, words, words." Hamlet knowingly answered back with that answer to seem mad, he knew what Polonius really mean, but to make it seem like he was crazy he purposely kept misinterpreting all of polonius' questions.

quinn

Anonymous said...

168 "Then I would you were so honest a man"

In his first conversation with Polonius, Hamlet cunningly insults the Ophelia's father while maintaining the impression that he is losing mental control. The above line is said by Hamlet after he "mistakes" Polonius for a fisherman. He then uses a variety of statements that serve to convince Polonius of his insanity, while making me certain that he is only acting, because the lines are brilliant in their subtlety, yet nasty is their meaning. I am even more convinced of his intelligence as a character, but the path he is following is not going to benefit him in the end. I think that for all his intelligence, he will only cause his own end eventually.

Anonymous said...

oops...

Ethan

Anonymous said...

When Polonius asks Hamlet if he knows who he (Polonius) is, Hamlet replies he does and that he is a fishmonger, a lowly person. This shows that Hamlet knows Polonius is keeping Ophelia away from him. Hamlet is witty in this scene, not mad. However, later in Act 2 displays madness when he flips out because he hasn't killed Claudius yet, and he flips out at Ophelia. He's well on his way to madness.


Paige

Anonymous said...

He is simply pretending to be mad (at least at this point during the novel). Hamlet is clever when he says to Polonius "You cannot sir take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal-except my life..." The comment makes Polonious uncomfortable and show Hamlet may be either thinking deeply or mad. It shows him to be witty and intelligent. He can walk the thin line that makes people uncertain if he is sane or confused. It's ironic because it can be taken different ways and could even imply that Hamlet knows of the murder.

-Caitlin

Anonymous said...

Hamlet is pretending to be mad. He says strange seemingly incoherent words to Polonius. "You are a Fishmonger," Hamlet said to Polonius after Polonius asked him if knew Polonius was. Hamlet is just acting crazy to distract people over his grief of his father's death. If Hamlet is considered mad, the people won't suspect him of wanting to revenge his dad (if people know of Claudius's deceit). He can then get his revenge on Claudius.
Matt

Hannah Vogel said...

In Hamlet's last speech in the act, he makes many references to "Am I a coward? who calls me "villain"? breaks my pate across?..." Lines 598-600. I believe Hamlet is actually becoming mad because he is questioning his own sanity in quotes like this. Though he began as acting to be mad, he became mad after seeing his father's ghost and looking for a way to avenge his murder. He believes that the play will prove the death and revels in the thought of his uncle squirming and imagines the sight of it. "He would drown the stage with tears and cleave the general ear with horrid speech" Lines 589-590. Hamlet's word choice cues his diminishing sanity.

Hannah

Anonymous said...

I believe that Hamlet isn't really mad he's just pretending to be mad so people don't realy know what his is planning in his head to do. One of Hamlet's puns are "You cannot, (sir) take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal--except my life, except my life, except my life." I think that this proves that he isn't amd but he just doesn't turely car about anything except his own life. To me it's saying that he only values his own life like you could take hsi uncle's life and he would willingly let you have it because he doesn't care. It says that you can take anything from him that he is willing to give except his life, that is the only thing that he will put up a fight for.

Kaitlyn Pierce

Anonymous said...

Scene 2: Lines 201-203
Let her not walk in the sun. Conception is a blessing, but, as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to it.

Hamlet says this to Polonius about his daughter, Ophelia, whom of which Hamlet has been persuing. Hamlet knows that Ophelia is Polonius' daughter and plays the fool as to not let on that he knows of Polonius' plot. Hamlet shows he's not mad because he knows what to say to reveal what he wants. With Polonius, he tries to tide him over by making it seem that he knows nothing of his daughter, but has actually set his plan in motion, which he doesn't know yet, with Ophelia.

-Maddy

Anonymous said...

Act 2 Scene 2
"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't."

Polonius comes in and tells Claudius that Hamlet's madness is due to the rejected love for Ophelia. However, with this, I still think that Hamlet is pretending to be mad. Hamlet was nervous and scared on how to approach the ghost. Therefore, he was trying to buy some time to come up with some thoughts and or ideas. By pretending to be "mad" this could really have helped him come up with a solution.

Brett

Anonymous said...

Hamlet pretends to be mad to buy some time to formulate a plan to finish off Claudious. "Denmarks a prison." He kind of plays it as a joke but he really feels trapped. I think Hamlet being near his father's murderer and his traitor mother and not knowing what to do about it is making him go mad. He states that Denmark is a prison. He can't escape the problems making him go insane.

Kaylie

Patrick "Filipino" Leick said...

Hamlet pretends to go mad in an effort to buy himself some time to prove the guilt of the new king and to find out if his mother was in on killing his father. Without the disguise of madness, he would have been viewed as a threat by Claudius and killed quickly. His mother, especially, wishes to humor him because she believes that it is the grief over the loss of his father and her hurried wedding to Hamlet's uncle that has caused him to go mad.

Anonymous said...

Scene 2 Line 210

In this section, when Hamlet is having a conversation with Polonius, he definitely seems mad. Polonius asks Hamlet what he is reading and Hamlet replies "Words, words, words." But I don't think Hamlet actually is mad. At one point in the text, even Polonius sees there is some method to his madness and he must be doing it on purpose. The things that he says to Polonius are so cunning and clever, that he must still be pretending to be mad at this point in the play.

Jana

Anonymous said...

Hamlet is not going mad. He knows full well what he is doing by acting “mad.” He is trying to buy himself time so that he can contemplate what to do about seeing the ghost of his father. He knows that his step-father/uncle has done something and he wants revenge. He is grief stricken and is not trying to look suspicious of anything. "You cannot, (sir) take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal--except my life, except my life, except my life." He cares about himself and that is it. He will not care if his uncle or anybody else whom he thinks is suspicious dies because he only cares for himself.

Marissa

Anonymous said...

Hamlet pretends to be crazy so that it buys him some time to think about what his father's ghost said to him and how to act on it. It's a cunning way to put up a front to devise his plan of action. He knows that by pretending to be mad people will leave him alone or ignore what he says because it will all be nonsense to them. He uses subtle ways to convince everyone of his insanity and does it well.

jasmine

Anonymous said...

Though I don't think Hamlet is completely mad, I do sense a bit of craziness in the fact that he was so apt to kill himself but then after talking to his father, he decided to live. It seems to me that the only reason he is still on the earth is for revenge, which is a sign of some sort of madness. I do believe though that he overdramatizes it in order to confuse his friends and family to be able to plot against them more easily. An example of this is the way he acts with Ophelia, touching and breathing hard yet not saying a word. It shows him wanting to make her see him as mad and also shows once again that he has one main reason to live and nothing else seems to truly matter anymore. I also believe that after Hamlet finds that his friends have come in order to spy on him, it causes Hamlet to "act" more mad than actually be. Though not fully mad in this point of the play, Hamlet continues to grow further and further to the point of no return in his craziness during this play.

Steph

Greg said...

Although Hamlet may be somewhat mad: contemplating suicide, the overwhelming grief due to the death of his father and the nature of the death, his disgust with his mother, and his overall discontent with the kingdom all may be driving Hamlet somewhat "mad" simply due to these factors alone. However, he is far from being mad in the classical sense and only pretends to be as part of an elaborate ruse meant to keep him off the radar while he figures out what to do with Claudius. A particular instance that displays Hamlet's wit is his confrontation with Polonious in which Hamlet makes submersive jabs at Polonious' age, with Polonious replying "How pregnant are his words." Clearly there is a method to Hamlet's madness.

Greg

Anonymous said...

Hamlet is not mad. He finds that if he really wants to get to people, he has to make then uncomfortable and make them think he is mad. When he says to Polonious ""You cannot, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal-except my life..." he is confusing Polonious and forcing him to really think about what he is saying. Hamlet uses this tactic throughout the story and it baffles the other character especially Ophelia.

Ali

Anonymous said...

ln.231-235
POLONIUS -My lord I will take my leave of you.
HAMLET You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly depart withal-ecxept my life.

Although Hamlet acts insane, he really is willing to die. He has nothing left to live for if he does not avenge his fathers death.

-Ben

Cameron Collard said...

Hamlet is not mad. He is just under an awful lot of emotional stress. There is a huge struggle going on inside of him, and he is completely unable to hide that fact from others, though they have no idea what it is about. He is very upset about the conflict he sees in his uncle and mother. His puns and dramatic speaking are the way his personality is affected by his distress. Of course, he can't tell anyone about his plans to kill the king. Instead, others are forced to provide their own explanations, and nothing besides madness presents itself.