My Favourite Literary Mentalists – 2) Hamlet, William Shakespeare

hamlet

” I essentially am not in madness/ But mad in craft”  Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4.

When we first meet Hamlet,  he is grieving for his murdered father and obsessively seeking the truth about his death in order set in motion his plan to take revenge on his uncle Claudius. (Who, lets not forget has committed fratricide, usurped the throne of Denmark and wasted absolutely no time at all bedding Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude). Naturally, Hamlet is more than a little pissed off about this state of affairs and rallies and rages in solitude against the corrupt and claustrophobic atmosphere in the court, bitterly remarking that something is more that a little ‘rotten’ in the state of Denmark. By turns melancholic, discontented, mercurial, paranoid, indecisive and thoughtful to the point of obsession, Hamlet contemplates death and suicide several times throughout the play. In his attempt to feign madness to disconcert Claudius and the court, we see flashes of his quicksilver humour, showmanship and deeply philosophical nature, until, inevitably the play thunders toward its tragic conclusion.  The rest is silence.

This is an interesting read on the nature of Hamlet’s madness and mentions Freud’s theories on Hamlet and the Oedipus complex.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/20/shakespeare-hamlet-dangerous-critchley-webster

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