Hamlet the prince of Denmark, is preparing to kill King Claudius who is believed to have killed previous King Hamlet, who is Claudius’ brother and Hamlet’s father. Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father to avenge him and kill Claudius. Being put in a position such as this makes many wonder if this led him to madness but is there enough evidence to prove it? There is plenty of evidence in the story that shows that this whole time Hamlet has been putting on an antic disposition and feigned his madness in order to confuse the king and his attendants.
Throughout the play it has been known that Hamlet is very intelligent, so it no surprise to the reader that he would be very meticulous in planning out the death/murder of King Claudius. He conjures a plan and part of that plan is to trick everyone into thinking that he has gone mad. “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on” (I.
V. 191-192). His plan is to act odd or strange, and this quote is proof that he will be acting crazy to throw everyone off of his true intentions.
However this isn’t the only indication that he has been acting throughout the play. “But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived” (II.ii. 399-400) he continues by saying “I am but mad north-north-west” (II, ii. 402). Although Hamlet says this his friends pay no mind to what is actually means and later tell the king that Hamlet is “A crafty madness” (III, i. 8). All these quotes are evidence that no one is but the wiser in Hamlet’s true intentions all because of his “madness”.
As the play progresses we see Hamlet act more and more antic and mad, but every time he does so he makes sure to let someone close to him know the truth. When him and Horatio are putting the final touches of the play together before the royal court comes in, Hamlet looks at Horatio and states, “I must be idle” (III, ii. 96).
This is his declaration of his true intention to act “foolish”, this shows that he is fully aware that everything that he is doing might seem over the top and crazy but he is in control with what is about to happen. During the closet scene of the “Mousetrap” play he refers to the belief held by others that he is mad but assures his mother that he is not mad but acting: “I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft” (III, iv.). Everyone essentially believes that Hamlet has gone mad, they don’t know exactly with what but they believe it to be so. However the king and his henchmen need a little more convincing, no matter how many times Polonius tells Claudius that Hamlet is mad in love Claudius is never really convinced. Claudius states to his henchmen “Get from him why he puts on this confusion” (II, i.
), this implies that he knows that his madness may not be real. He soon comes to the conclusion that Hamlet’s actions are from sadness not madness, “What he spake, though it lack’d form a little. Was not like madness” (III, i.
). Although Claudius knows that Hamlet isn’t mad he ships him to England to fulfill his plan, and have him killed. There is plenty of evidence to prove that Hamlet isn’t really mad and is simply faking it to carry out his plan, however there is something that still doesn’t make sense; during the duel between Hamlet and Laertes Hamlet states that him killing Polonius “was madness” (IV, ii.
). Hamlet admits to have gone mad, but there’s another way to look at this. Hamlet admitted to have gone mad in that one point in time, he knew that it was wrong and that during that moment in time madness had taken over him, but if he was able to understand that he went mad in that time he would’ve just admitted to have been mad throughout the entire play not just that one moment. We see that Hamlet was temporarily insane and he realizes that. There is really no doubt that Hamlet really was feigning his madness. His plan thrived on his acting skills and “madness” he gained from it. Even though his well thought out plan may have been perceived as mad, his intention was to throw them off of his trace and he ultimately succeeded.
Hamlet put on an antic disposition and although it led to his death it led to Claudius’ as well which was his overall goal.