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Melancholy and Hamlet In the play Hamlet written by William Shakespeare Hamlet is greatly affected in his thoughts and his actions by his ever changing state of melancholy Melancholia is a medical term categorized by extreme depression apathy and withdrawal Hamlet gives in to this illness and throughout the play he shows several characteristics of it Hamlet being so self-centered steers him away from performing the vigorous duties he has been chosen to do by the ghost of his father and also himself Hamlet develops a wariness of family and companions that keeps him from incriminating himself and destroying his plans for revenge In the end it is Hamlets perseverance and determination that keeps him focused on his plan and gives him a relentlessness with which he pursues his goal The conduct of Hamlet causes him to become the exact definition of melancholy as defined by the medical field over the years The time in which Shakespeare lived and wrote this play was a time where the medical profession was just beginning The people depended on ancient theories and practices that are no longer used in the medical field today It was believed that black bile was a fluid found in the body Any person with an excess amount of blood or fluids was believed to be in the state of melancholy Hamlet was viewed as being composed of too much black bile which placed him as melancholic Skepticism a stubborn outlook and attitude about life self absorption and excessive gloomy response to recent events are all symptoms of melancholy All of these symptoms apply to Hamlet during the course of the play It is the fulfillment of these symptoms that proves Hamlet is in fact melancholic Hamlets constant thoughts and feelings about himself come from his state of melancholy His continuos introspection as to how he is thinking behaving and feeling at any given time keep him from acting swiftly
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