Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet is an exploration of   ideas and concerns pertaining not only to the Elizabethan age but down through time including our world today.. In his dramatic portrayal of characters, their interactions and intense human relationships, it is evident that Shakespeare examines universal notions such as the ideal of madness, and the true nature of reality. The success of Shakespeare play lies in its ability to transcend the confines of a traditional Revenger’s Tragedy and explore the great timeless existential questions of humanity. This   understanding has been further developed by the perspective and opinions of Alan Stanford available in the set podcast.

The notion of madness is central to the unfolding   of the tragedy and continues to engage and puzzle audiences today. Hamlet consciously presents a veil of madness in order to perplex and perturb the king and his attendants. There are many indications other than his declaration to act ‘strange or odd’ and to ‘put an antic disposition on’ that affirms his act of madness. Hamlet’s unreasonable behaviour is in fact only reflected around certain characters such as Guildenstern which he insinuates that “his uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived” and that he is only “mad north-north-west.” This notion is substantiated through Alan Stanford’s ideal of Hamlet’s feigned behaviour.

Hamlets behaviour in many instances is professed as realistic.This is evident in the audience’s perception into his melancholy towards his mother’s rather hasty marriage to his uncle. This instigates the emotional distress Hamlet is experiencing which Gertrude attests, “I doubt it no other but the main,/ His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage”. By the use of the emotive word “o’erhasty”, Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, faces reality and grasps that the reason for Hamlet’s insanity are his father’s loss and her hasty marriage to his uncle, his father’s brother.Conversely, Polonius reasons Hamlet’s madness centred on...