Senior English: Hamlet Notes, signs of madness

Signs of Hamlet’s madness in the early stages of the play

‘O that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter’ – Hamlet is suicidal the first time we meet him – this shows a character who is suffering from depression

    • This  continues with ‘how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world’ – this shows he has lost all lust for life, another example of his depressed outlook


Hamlet’s unnatural obsession with his mother and her sexual relationships ‘to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets’ shows an unusual side to Hamlet’s character

    • Hamlet projects his mother’s qualities onto all women ‘frailty, thy name  is woman!’ – this shows he cannot disentangle his relationship with other women from his relationship with her


‘O my prophetic soul!’ – If the ghost is telling Hamlet what he already suspected, does this imply that Hamlet is hallucinating and imagining his encounter with the ghost?

    • The  ghost leaves Hamlet with the words ‘Adieu, adieu’. This means ‘goodbye forever’. Why does the ghost reappear later in the play if this was a final goodbye? The queen cannot see the ghost when he reappears, so this would add evidence to this theory



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