Is Hamlet Mad or Mad in Craft?
Madness is defined as the state of being mentally ill or having extremely foolish behavior. It is a condition in which is difficult to identify whether it is true or not. In William Shakespeare's masterpiece, Hamlet, there is confusion as to whether or not his madness is real. The ghost of his father asks Hamlet to avenge his death. While he tries to accomplish this, he puts on an antic disposition. The antic disposition reoccurs throughout the play, but is merely an act. Hamlet is mad in craft because he admits that he is not mad several times, he behaves irrational only in front of certain individuals, and he has many feigned actions.
From the very start, the ghost of Hamlet’s father tells him that Claudius is the one who murdered him. As soon as he is aware of the news, Hamlet begins to plan his next steps, saying, “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself, as I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on” (1.5.179-181). An antic disposition means to act in a grotesque manner. This simply means that Hamlet is going to play a role of a mad person throughout the play. Hamlet does this so he can distract people from his intention of exposing Claudius for the murder of his father. Hamlet also states a second time that he is not in fact crazy. While talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet says, "I am but mad north north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a Hawk from a Handsaw." (2.2.378-379). This implies that Hamlet is only crazy sometimes and at other times he knows what is going on. Another time that he admits he is acting crazy is to his mother, “I essentially am not in madness But mad in craft” (3.4.194-195). This final confession from Hamlet lets the audience know once and for all that he is faking his madness.
Besides admitting he is mad in craft, it is obvious that Hamlet is sane by his choice of actions around select audiences. If Hamlet can decide who he wants to act mad around then he