Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous and well-known works. Hamlet is a tragedy, and Hamlet is the main character. Hamlet is dealing with a lot of family drama, as well as his own inner turmoil.
One of the most debated topics when it comes to Hamlet is whether or not Hamlet was actually mad. There are many different interpretations of Hamlet’s madness, but no one can say for certain what Shakespeare meant. Some people believe that Hamlet was simply pretending to be mad in order to get revenge on his uncle. Others believe that Hamlet was actually insane, and that his madness was a part of his character.
No matter what interpretation you believe, Hamlet’s madness is a central part of the story. It affects Hamlet’s interactions with other characters, and it leads to Hamlet’s ultimate downfall. Hamlet’s madness is a complex and fascinating topic, and it is something that has been debated for centuries.
I, who am insane north-north-west, know a hawk from a handsaw when the wind is southerly (II. ii. 377). This is a classic example of Hamlet employing “wild and spinning words” (I. v. 134) in an attempt to persuade others that he is insane. These words, however, show that under his “antic disposition,” Hamlet is very sane indeed. He’s disclosing that he’s deliberately choosing the timing of his madness under layers of imagery including points of the compass, weather, and hunting birds.
Hamlet tells Horatio that he will put an “ancient” or “customary” face on when the wind is from the south, which would be a good time for hunting. Hamlet is saying that he will only appear to be mad when it suits his purpose.
When Hamlet feigns madness, he does so for a specific purpose: to convince people that he is not a threat. If Hamlet were truly mad, he would be incapable of carrying out his plans. Hamlet’s madness, therefore, is part of his larger plan to take revenge on his uncle Claudius. Hamlet knows that if he appears to be mad, people will not take him seriously and will not see him as a threat. Hamlet is not actually mad, but he is pretending to be in order to achieve his goals.
Hamlet’s madness is also a way for him to deal with the pain and grief that he is experiencing. Hamlet’s father has been murdered, and his mother has married Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet is in pain and he does not know how to cope with his feelings. The only way that Hamlet can express his sadness and anger is by pretending to be mad. Hamlet’s madness allows him to deal with his feelings in a healthy way.
Hamlet’s madness is also a symbol of the chaos that is happening in Denmark. The country is in a state of turmoil, and Hamlet’s madness represents that chaos. Hamlet is not the only character in the play who is experiencing mental turmoil. Gertrude is also in pain, and she turns to alcohol to deal with her problems. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two characters who are completely out of their depth. They do not know what to do with themselves, and they are blindly following Claudius’ orders. The entire country is in chaos, and Hamlet’s madness symbolizes that chaos.
Hamlet’s madness is also a way for Shakespeare to explore the theme of death. Death is a major theme in Hamlet, and Hamlet’s madness allows Shakespeare to explore that theme in a different way. Hamlet is obsessed with death, and he constantly thinks about killing himself. Hamlet’s madness gives him the opportunity to think about death in a different way.
Hamlet’s concluding line, “And I heard it.” is an indication that he knows the difference between a hunted “handsaw” or heron and a hunting hawk. Hamlet’s madness was feigned for a purpose. He informed his friends that he planned to feign insanity, but Gertrude as well as Claudius were able to see through it, and Polonius was on the fence. His public image of mental illness is deceptive; in actuality, his madness is simulated behind closed doors when we see him talking with Horatio about secret things and planning complex strategies of action.
Hamlet has a plan to catch his uncle in his guilt. Hamlet’s pretended madness allows him to say and do things which, were he himself, would be unthinkable. Hamlet is able to watch and study the reactions of those around him, including his mother and Ophelia, without their knowledge. Hamlet’s mad speeches are also full of brilliant puns and wordplay which reveal his true state of mind.
When Hamlet feigns madness, he does so for specific reasons at specific times. He is not randomly or permanently insane; his insanity is a tool that he uses when it suits his purposes. Hamlet is an incredibly skilled actor and thinker, and his ability to convincingly fake madness helps him to get closer to the truth and to revenge. Hamlet’s madness is a complex and multi-layered aspect of the play, one which deserves further examination. Shakespeare has given us a character who is both supremely sane and dangerously mad, and this tension provides much of the drama in Hamlet.
Hamlet says he will wear a mask of madness when the Ghost reappears to him, and that he will put on a false disposition after finding out whether or not it is suitable or advantageous to him. When the moment strikes, Hamlet informs Horatio, he will “put an antic disposition on” (I. v. 173). This technique enables Hamlet to obtain evidence of Claudius’ guilt while also allowing him time to consider his revenge plan. Even though he has vowed to avenge his father’s death, Hamlet is unsure about the Ghost’s origins: “The spirit I have seen / May be the devil” (II. ii 596-7).
Hamlet wants to make sure that the Ghost is really his father’s spirit before he takes any rash actions. Hamlet also feigns madness in order to protect himself from potential harm. Gertrude has warned Hamlet that Claudius may have him killed in order to stop him from uncovering the truth: “Heaven will direct it. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all” (III. iv. 78-9).
Hamlet knows that he needs to be careful and plans to use his pretended madness as a way to avoid assassination attempts. Hamlet is not sure what the future holds for him, but he knows that he needs to be cautious.
Hamlet’s madness is also a way for him to grieve his father’s death. Hamlet is clearly devastated by his father’s murder and cannot seem to move on. He is consumed with thoughts of revenge and has trouble sleeping and eating. Hamlet’s outbursts are likely a result of his grief and pain. In addition, Hamlet may be mad because he is unable to accept his mother’s remarriage to his uncle. Hamlet loved his father and may have felt that Gertrude was betraying him by marrying Claudius so soon after King Hamlet’s death.