Was Hamlet Criminally Insane? Supreme Court Justice Makes a Ruling

Hamlet, the protagonist of one of William Shakespeare's most famous plays, was finally put on trial to determine whether he was mentally ill when he stabbed Polonius, the king's adviser in the play.

The ruling? The jury was deadlocked, with 10 jurors deeming him sane and two finding him insane . Deliberations during the mock trial, which took place Jan. 31 at the University of Southern California and was presented by The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, lasted for 20 minutes. United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy presided over the trial and Beverly Hills Bar Association members argued in Hamlet's defense.

The jury consisted of high school students, philanthropists and actors, including Helen Hunt, while an actor portrayed the Prince of Denmark in a non-speaking role during the mock trial. Because of the hung jury, Kennedy sentenced Hamlet to "the pages of our literary heritage, to challenge us and later generations to know more about you."

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Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.