The ‘closet scene’ reveals Hamlet’s true nature, for he is away from the eyes of those he wishes to fool. His order for Gertrude to “come, come, and sit you down. You shall not- budge. You go not till I set up a glass where you can see the inmost part of you” shows that he no longer respects his mother. He acts in an angry, violent manner towards Gertrude which clearly strikes fear within her for she cries, “What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me- help ho! ” This continues for some time until Hamlet borders on rape, which again supports the Oedipus complex.
However, the “rat” Polonius cries out for help and Hamlet kills him without a second of doubt. Here is the crucial part within the scene where we witness Hamlet’s lack of morals. Whilst Gertrude is busy wringing her hands and stating “O, what a rash and bloody dead is this! ” Hamlet replies “a bloody deed- almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother. ” His obsession with the topic of revenge, and possibly underlying sexual desires, immediately bring him away from the fact that he committed the worst sin of all, murder.
It is ironic that Hamlet rejects suicide near the beginning of the play due to God’s “canon ‘gainst self slaughter”, however, he would willingly take the life of a fellow man and feel no remorse for it! I can only conclude that Hamlet’s mind slowly deteriorates throughout the play. Initially, it was plagued by depression, but after the first appearance of the Ghost, obsession replaces this and slowly rots way at his ethics and moral, unbalancing his mind and leading him down the path of insanity.
Hamlet’s atrocious actions refute his description as a “renaissance man” (Stoll) for a renaissance man has morals and humane ethics. Hamlet has nothing but obsession, persistence and an insane mind. Jones states that Hamlet’s “soliloquies are dramatisations of a brilliant mind”. This may well be true. Hamlet was indeed in possession of a brilliant mind, but brilliance and insanity are two very different things that can fit together in a mind to confuse numerous amounts of scholars throughout the ages.
In the famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy Hamlet philosophises if there is a presence (God) “who would bear the whips and scorns of time”. Essentially, he is stating if it would be better to leave the world of turmoil behind by means of suicide. His first soliloquy openly rejects suicide, however, now, he seriously questions if it is the right method to choose. He has lost faith in God and faith in people, for he distances himself from almost everyone in the play.
His mind has deteriorated from moral sense and plunged deeper into insanity. It is almost humorous to hear critics like Hazlitt state that Hamlet was a “great moraliser”. He moralises nothing. He has abandoned his morals. He is moral-less or they would have intervened in his horrid actions of murder and revenge. He subconsciously and maybe even consciously realised this and feigned an “antic disposition” in order to slowly allow himself to become more and more insane.
His progressively violent actions throughout the play show that this is true.
Bibliography C. S. Lewis: Hamlet: The Prince or the Poem Lectures on the Literature of the Age of Elizabeth and Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays – William Hazlitt The Wheel of Fire – Wilson Knight Earnest Jones – Hamlet + Oedipus Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire – Hans Eysenck A Cambridge guide to Hamlet – Rex Gibson What Happens in Hamlet – Dover Wilson Shakespere’s Hamlet Cliff Notes http://www. rsc. org. uk/hamlet/learning/madness. html.