Hamlet's Antic Disposition.
Many complex and divisive topics appear frequently throughout the play of William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Amongst the most critical themes of history is Hamlet's theme of madness. Whether Hamlet is sane or crazy, the question is asked again and again.
The famous play Hamlet, the main character of the novel, apart from being very complicated, is one majestically expanded. There are countless volumes published with this character as Shakespeare does not offer any firm evidence about his traits. Yet on Hamlet's antic disposition, implying his absurd nature or insanity, Shakespeare gives more than enough reason to think it's feigned, suggesting it's just a trick to assist Hamlet in carrying out his vengeance plans. In different aspects of his antic disposition, this is denoted.
Hamlet's life circumstances, from his father's death to his lover's death, can be sufficient to drive someone to the brink of sanity and plunge into insanity. The theme of insanity is vital to the creation of the character and plot all through the entire play. Madness is initiated by Hamlet ultimately to see out his vengeance scheme. Hamlet takes on crazy acts, but he's mentally okay.
Firstly, there are several moments where Hamlet claims he's not insane, but instead was acting like he is. When Hamlet has spoken to the ghost, he says: "As I might presume it will happen hereafter, to bring on an antic disposition." That quotation is very significant as Hamlet says he will have an "antic disposition" henceforth. He'll act crazy whenever his friends meet him, but he was pretending. The antic disposition is indicative of a genius plan for Hamlet to find out if Claudius killed his father and seek revenge. Hamlet is brilliant as it would appear natural for somebody who has just lost his father to behave insanely or a little "odd," and no one will believe that he is getting ready to seek revenge on a king. Another very significant line is when he spoke to Gertrude: "I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft." Here Hamlet tells his mom that he's just trying to convince people that he is mad, but that he's not crazy. Lots of people tend to say that insane people are going to tell everyone they're not mad continually. If that's the case, those who aren't necessarily insane can tell people they are, but that's wrong. He also informs Gertrude never to say to King Claudius since there would no longer be a point of his entire act of antic disposition.
Hamlet only pretends to be insane, but he knows what's correct and the happenings around him when it gets down to it. He says to Guildestern and Rozencrantz: “I am but mad north-northwest. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw" (2.2 368-369). Once Hamlet chooses not to kill King Claudius when he was praying, it demonstrates that he's not insane and that he can rationally think and act. There was no higher chance to execute King Claudius than when he was on his knees, praying vulnerably. He didn't even realize that with a raised sword, Hamlet stood behind him. It indicates that Hamlet is not insane due to his ability to quickly act rationally without questioning himself. He is in full control of his mental and physical condition.
Indeed, Hamlet often carries the disguise of insanity in the presence of other men, but even they assume that his madness is not sheer insanity, but has a purpose for it: "It lacked a little substance, it was not like crazy" (3.1.163-165). It seems as if Hamlet's antic disposition actions worked perfectly because King Claudius thinks his actions are nuts, but there's an explanation for everything. Even Polonius says: "Though this is madness, yet there is a method in it (2.2.203-204). This quote indicates clearly that Hamlet is insane, but behind his craziness, there is meaning, and there are enough reasons. Hamlet's life has been a tragedy lately, preceded by another. He first found out that his dad died, and afterward the spirit informs Hamlet that it had been Hamlet's Uncle Claudius who murdered him, and his Uncle Claudius, the killer, and ruler, married his mother to top it off Furthermore, he leaves his girlfriend and claims to not love her to find out that, mainly because of him, she committed suicide. Life of Hamlet has gone from bad to worse, and worse to disastrous. It'd be an understatement to go nuts after all these horrific events. Once Hamlet got the assassination news of his father, given his condition, he did what anyone else would. He takes on the antic disposition to figure out if Claudius killed his father and to plot his vengeance.
On the other hand, after Laertes learned of his father's death, he blamed Claudius and questioned him directly without much consideration. He acted rashly by unthinkingly threatening the king; however, he had a crowd to back him up: "I thank you, keep the door" (4.5.114), although Hamlet acted logically and had a scheme planned, that doesn't make you mad. Just like Laertes, Hamlet responded to his father's death, but differently.
The question remains whether or not Hamlet is insane, but Ophelia's insanity is not denied. Two of them had experienced tragic events in their lives. Ophelia is told by her father to keep away from Hamlet; she is then refused by Hamlet, deceived into surrendering her chastity, and even worse, her ex-lover murders her father. Ophelia begins to sing about the death of her father, Hamlet's trickery, and all this world's tricks. Singing after your father's death indicates something is amiss with you, "A document in madness" (4.5. 175-176). Upon his father's death, Hamlet doesn't lose it entirely but maintains his calm attention focused on his mission. Throughout the play, Hamlet often talks about suicide: "To be or not to be, that is the question" (3.1. 156). Ophelia ended up committing suicide and did not get a regular Christian burial: "Her death was doubtful" (5.1.211). It's terrible to think about suicide and talk about it continually, so going through it shows you're mad. Tragic events occurred in the lives of them both, but Ophelia couldn't take it anymore, as the wood of insanity was always in Ophelia looking for something to burn it. Hamlet also has several causes, but no matter how hot the torch got, the wood of insanity isn't there.
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