Hamlet Insane or “Antic Disposition”?
Is Hamlet mad? This is a question that has plagued the minds of generations of readers and critics, and is one that has drawn various analyses and theories. Hamlet’s sanity is not just an academic debate, but also one that is contemplated by every reader and viewer of the play when he plays the play again and again in his mind since the fact whether he is sane or not affects the perceptions of the reader in many significant ways. However, before passing on a judgment about Hamlet’s sanity, it is essential to define what insanity is. The first modern definition for insanity was formed during a trial in England, held in the year 1843, whereby insanity was termed as an inability of a person to appreciate the wrongful nature of his actions or the consequences of those actions. (Devine 2012) This was not the case for Hamlet. He was clearly a sane person who feigned madness or in Shakespeare’s words put on an antic disposition all for the purpose of taking revenge on his uncle. Through his ability to plot and ploy, pick whom he acts insane around and have consciousness and control over his emotions, it becomes abundantly clear that Hamlet is indeed sane. During the opening of this play, Hamlet is asked by the ghost of King Hamlet, his deceased father, to avenge his death. He has recently lost his father, and has seen his mother marrying his uncle, who is the murderer of his father according to the ghost. These facts are enough to cause chaos and emotional turmoil to any person’s mind. Hamlets states, "And so I am revenged. That would be scanned: A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, d this same villain send to heaven;” (3.3.76-78). Hamlet’s words reflect those of a son who will do anything to fulfill his father’s wishes. He feels morally obliged but Hamlet could not go about taking revenge on his uncle in an apparent manner, as his Uncle is the new king and any such overt expression of his rage,...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document