For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit. (Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2)
For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.
Act 2 Scene 2 (continued). It’s that time, folks. Time to ask if Hamlet is mentally unstable or is he just playing fast and loose ’cause he’s on “The Truman Show”?
Freud says yes. Jung says no. Skinner says he is behaving that way, so it must be true. Adler says he has several rings on the Actualization ladder before he’s happy. Hamlet’s doctor blames it on that bedwetting episode the Hamster had when he was six. Let’s just say that Princey isn’t a happy camper and leave it at that.
Thing is the Hamster can’t get a moment’s peace. Hamlet is having a down-and-out with Ophelia. Mom is down on him for being so hard on the king. Last few days, he’s caught Polonius eavesdropping on him big time. If that ain’t enough, he is strolling down the hall. Out pops Polonius and gives Hamlet the third degree. Man, I would find that a bummer too. He has become a canary in a cage, thanks to Claudius and Mom’s intentions.
Probably Poly came up with the plan to get rid of Dad. That’s some down and dirty plotting. Makes Hamlet wonder if Cain had a minion urging him on. “Ah, c’mon. You will be the Big Man on Campus instead of that smarty Abel. Always egging you on. ‘My sheep are better than your cabbage.'”
Does Hamlet have an antic disposition or is he just feeling blue? He may not be a mentally unstable person. He just plays one of tv. But he sure feels like somebody’s watching him these days.
So Polonius asks him what he is reading. “Who does Polonius think he is?” Hamlet thinks. He doesn’t really care. Just wants to be left alone. Of course, he’s reading words…words…words. Perhaps Hamlet is reading Kierkegaard. Perhaps he is reading Sartre. After all, existentialism is all the rage. And who is a better example of that philosophy than Hamlet?
Or perhaps he is reading one of the Gospels.
Hamlet is so angry. The gall of Polonius. It’s enough to drive a guy mad if he wasn’t already mad. Hamlet does a rhetorical. “Do you know me indeed?” Hamlet gets in his jab. “Just one man in ten thousand is good. (You ain’t him.) A coward dies a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once.” Take that you Poly-want-a-cracker.
Poly leaves and in comes the clowns, R & G. And they talk blah-blah-blah too. He is no more sane to them than he was to Poly. It’s all the sane to him.
Well, there you have it. The guy is play acting, or is he?