The Pretended Madness of Hamlet in Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude Pages: 2 (758 words) Published: May 27, 2012
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the main character Hamlet is believed to have gone insane after the death of his father. There is much evidence in the play that causes one to believe that Hamlet is in fact crazy. However, there are also indications to the contrary, Hamlet only feigns madness for the purpose of carrying out his mission. He rehearses his pretend madness first with Ophelia for even if he fails to convince her , that failure would not cause him any harm. The language he uses is clearly not that of an insane person, he is lucid and succinct when he speaks proving that he knows exactly what he is doing. .

In Act 1, when we first meet Hamlet, even though he is still grieving his father’s death, he appears to be himself and of sound mind. After Horatio and Marcellus see the ghost, Hamlet tells them that he is going to fake insanity. “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself /(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet /To put an antic disposition on).” (I.V.171-180) Here Hamlet tells his friends that from this point forward his behaviour might be perceived as crazy but that they should ignore it because he is only acting. He begs Horatio and Marcellus not to tell anyone about what happened to him that night and makes them swear they won’t tell. This tells the reader that his behaviour throughout the play was just an act. Only a sane person could devise a plan such as this to trick others.

In Act 3, Hamlet gets the players that have arrived to perform a scene from The Mousetrap a play in which one of the characters kills the king whilst he is asleep and successfully woos the queen, which resembles how Claudius killed King Hamlet. Hamlet decides to make the players perform this scene in particular because he wants to gauge Claudius’ reaction during the performance to see if he is guilty or not. If Hamlet was in fact insane he would not have been able to come up with a plan like this. After the show is over Hamlet tells his mother “That I essentially...
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