Does one have to be insane to take another person’s life? To commit murder?

  1. The American novelist, John Irving, says said about his work The World According to Garp, that it is “a life-redeeming work in which everybody dies. Comment on the extent to which the same might be said of Hamlet.
  2. Locate a copy of Tragedy and Philosophy by Walter Kaufmann. Read the relevant sections of the text (Chapter 9) and decide which of the philosopher’s views comes closest to your own regardingHamlet.
  3. One of the inevitable and time-honoured questions asked about Hamlet focuses on the question of his insanity, whether he has put on an “antic disposition” or whether he is truly insane. Discuss whether you believe Hamlet is putting on an “antic disposition” or whether you believe he is truly insane. Consider the following questions in preparing your response, but do not answer them specifically.
    1. What is sanity or insanity?
    2. How people know whether they are sane or insane?
    3. If an individual lives entirely on his or her own, how can that person determine whether she or he is insane or sane?
    4. Does one have to be insane to take another person’s life? To commit murder?
    5. Is Hamlet sane or insane during this act of the play?
  4. While many have discussed Shakespeare’s work in Freudian analyses, C.G. Jung, one of Freud’s younger colleagues also interests many readers. Click on the link below, which contains an essay by Dr. C. George Boeree on Jungian personality theory. Read the short sections, “Introversion” and “Extraversion” and “The Functions.” The second link, “The Personality Theory of Carl Jung,” provides similar information in a different format. Read the articles, then decide and argue (in proper essay format) how Jung’s theories might be applied to three major characters in the play.