Why Hamlet Pretends He’s Mad
Hamlet is set in Denmark, in a time when Norway is about to attack. Meanwhile, some dodgy things are happening in the royal castle of Elsinore. Prince Hamlet is the son of King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude. At the start of the play, king Hamlet has died and the king’s brother Claudius has married Gertrude so soon after the death of the king and is taken over as king. Prince Hamlet is very upset by all this moping around wishing to die as well. Then, a ghost appears to the prince claiming to be his dead father “I’m thy father’s spirit”, telling him that he was murdered by Claudius with poison, and demands that Prince Hamlet avenge him by killing Claudius “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”. Hamlet isn’t entirely sure that the ghost is really his dead but he agrees to kill Claudius pretending madness to prevent suspicion. Hamlet meets with Ophelia, whom he has a relationship with, he acts crazy telling her that he never loved her and to get “to a nunnery”. Hamlet has a plan to make sure, whether the king killed his father or not, he gets a group of actors to perform a play in which a king is murdered with poison. Claudius leaves the play in the middle, which Hamlet finds/sees it as proof of his crime. Later, Hamlet comes across Claudius wrestling with his guilt in prayer.
Tragic Turn of Events
Hamlet refuses to kill him there while he might go to heaven if he’s killed while praying. While talking to his mother, Hamlet hears a noise behind a tapestry in the room thinking it’s his uncle, so he stabs a tapestry but falls out Polonius – Ophelia’s father – who was spying on the conversation.
The ghost of King Hamlet shows up again telling him to stop mucking around and kill Claudius. Claudius is not feeling terribly safe at this point, and he sends Hamlet with two of his friends to England with a letter telling the king of England saying to kill Hamlet. Hamlet finds the letter and changes it to kill his friends instead. Meanwhile, Ophelia has gone mad from the death of her dad and Hamlet’s rejection.
Laertes, Polonius’s son, returns from France furious and makes a deal with Claudius, they challenge Hamlet to a fencing match, but Laertes will have a poisoned sword and Claudius will offer Hamlet poisoned wine. Hamlet comes back home to Denmark and finds out that Ophelia has drowned, apparently in a suicide fit of madness. And then the fencing match begins, Laertes cuts Hamlet with his poisoned sword, then they accidentally switched swords and Hamlet cuts Laertes with the poisoned sword. Gertrude seeming unknowing drinks the poisoned wine, and Hamlet finally kills Claudius.
Shakespeare and Tragedy
The end is tragic and almost everyone dies, every character of the story had his motifs to do what he does. Hamlet is the rightful heir to the throne, there is also some legal contract through which Gertrude can inherit the country after King Hamlet’s death but the elector’s decision has another opinion. Shakespeare obviously wants to critic the “elective” monarchy of Denmark and the consequences it may cause although he may have known nothing about it. The electors have the right to choose the person who fits for the kingdom, the throne must not be to the king’s immediate heir. In Hamlet case, the electors may have their strong reasons to choose the brother instead of the son. However, it’s obvious that Claudius manages to become the king, it is shown while confessing his murder and mentioning the motifs he has behind “My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen” the question here is Gertrude also involved? It is possible that with the support of the queen, Claudius wins the necessary votes. Shakespeare may have written this play referring to England instead of Denmark at that time, yet the play stays one of the popular plays dealing with politics allowing different interpretations.