Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Specifically, it will answer the question, is Hamlet truly insane? Hamlet is a deceptively simply character whose insatiable need for vengeance makes him appear insane to the casual reader, but in reality, Hamlet is not insane, he is just insanely jealous and vengeful, and these qualities color his life and the lives of those around him. This makes Hamlet the consummate tragic hero, whose actions lead to his downfall, and the downfall of those closest to him.
Hamlet is a tragic hero because his actions lead to his downfall, and the downfall of many around him. He recognizes that he has character flaws that will ultimately lead him to jealousy, despair, and death, in fact, he notes, "I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth?" (Shakespeare 2049). Hamlet recognizes that he has character flaws, but he is powerless to act on them, and so, he self-destructs by the end of the play, taking many other characters with him. Tragic heroes also exhibit characteristics that endear themselves to the audience, and Hamlet has many of these characteristics.
Anyone who has suddenly lost a family member can certainly understand Hamlet's grief and woe at his father's death and his mother's quick remarriage. He laments, "But two months dead! - nay, not so much, not two: / So excellent a king; that was, to this" (Shakespeare 2013). Immediately, he captures the audience's sympathy, and it is clear Hamlet is suffering, and suffering deeply. His emotional state may be fragile, but he is not insane, unless he is insane with grief and woe. In addition, Hamlet is a victim of circumstance, which also makes him more sympathetic to the audience. Hamlet could not have anticipated or stopped his father's murder, and because of this, he could not stop fate, he is a victim of circumstances beyond his control, it is his reaction to them that causes his downfall, but it is his sympathetic portrayal by Shakespeare that adds to his acceptance by the audience. He is clearly not an evil man; he is simply a man reacting to events around him that cannot control his reactions, and jealousy is one of his most dangerous reactions.
This play reeks of jealousy and betrayal. Queen Gertrude has waited less than a month to marry the new king (the murderer of Hamlet's father), and Hamlet's insane jealousy over this drives him to murder, deceit, and revenge. Gertrude knows the danger of jealousy and guilt, and she knows it will have an effect on her son. She muses, "So full of artless jealousy is guilt, / It spills itself in fearing to be spilt" (Shakespeare 2076). To make things worse, Gertrude is happy in her new marriage, and he finds this even more difficult to accept. His distress at his mother's actions also lead him to distrust his love, and this is also a tragic flaw in his character. He is jealous, guilty over his jealousy, and so he takes his unhappiness out on those who are closest to him, like Ophelia. Just because his mother betrayed his father does not mean that all women are not to be trusted, but Hamlet cannot make the distinction, and so he ruins the life of his beloved by murdering her father and thus leading to her suicide. Hamlet is blinded by his jealousy, and so, he ruins the lives of others, and himself in the end. His reactions are emotional rather than well thought out, and so, he allows his emotions to override his common sense. He rants at Ophelia, "Get thee to a nunnery. Why, wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me (Shakespeare 2049). He is weak and emotional, vengeful and jealous, but none of these things makes him mad, although many of the other characters believe Hamlet is losing his senses.
By the end of the play, Hamlet's actions cause those around him to become convinced of his depravity. Queen Gertrude laments, "Alas he's mad!" (Shakespeare 2066) after one of his outbursts after seeing his father's ghost,…