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William Shakespeares Hamlet has always provided literary critics with a rich source for character analysis This source has grown as critics no longer evaluate Hamlet as an artistic representation limited to the depth of which the author characterizes him but rather evaluate him as a living human being Lowers 10 As the scrutiny on Hamlet the human being has intensified many people have been called to wonder if Hamlet is insane Before trying to answer this question it should be considered that this is possibly the wrong question Insane is a legal term not a medical one People often mistakenly assume that the word insane is interchangeable with the medical term psychosis which describes mental sickness The majority of the US states determine insanity by the McNaghten rule By this standard an insanity defense can be established by proving that the defendant did not know what he was doing or did not realize that it was wrong Davison 592 It is obvious from Hamlets comments throughout the play that he is aware of what his actions are and what the consequences will be Hamlets presence of mind allows him to stay one step ahead of Claudius He reveals that he has sensed Rosencrantz and Guildensterns ulterior motives when he asks them to play upon this pipe Ham 32358-59 Hamlet continuously leaves Polonius confused as he is too slow to fully understand Hamlets veiled insults Even when Hamlet does contradict himself or acts oddly it is impossible to rule out that he was putting on an antic disposition Ham 172 Hamlet himself suggests this is the case when he tells Guildenstern that he is but mad north-northwest Ham 22348 Many scholars accept these comments as proof of Hamlets sanity McGrail refers to Hamlet feigning madness Remnick 74 After examining Hamlets words and actions it is reasonable to assume that Hamlet is not only sane but also most likely sharper than any of the other characters in
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