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To What Extent Does Hamlet Retain His Sanity After Claiming To Put An Antic Disposition On?

1758 words - 7 pages

In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet claims, "to put an antic disposition on." He maintains this false sense of madness throughout the play, though his sanity is put into question by other characters. His selective 'madness', self-belief in his sanity, and the reasons he holds for his 'mad' outbursts and his lunacy in general reflect his sanity. Hamlet deals with issues such as the confliction of values, life, murder, the afterlife, madness, revenge, death and love.Hamlet is a classic play of the revenge tragedy genre. Hamlet, the central character, is the Prince of Denmark, son of the late King Hamlet and Gertrude who married Claudius (Her late husband's brother) shortly after King Hamlet's death. The ghost of King Hamlet appears to his son and tells him that Claudius murdered him. Hamlet must seek revenge for his father's death, to maintain the family's honour. He pretends to be mad and rejects Ophelia, whom he had claimed that he loved. After Hamlet's accidental murder of her father, Polonius, Ophelia goes mad and later drowns herself. Becoming concerned about his own welfare, Claudius sends Hamlet to England with his "friends" (Really spies hired by the King), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who carry a letter asking for the execution of Hamlet- however Hamlet finds the letter and changes his name to that of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. On his return to Denmark, the King organises a fencing match between Hamlet and Polonius's son, Laertes. Laertes wounds Hamlet with a poisoned sword, but Hamlet grabs the sword and mortally wounds Laertes, who tells of the King's deceit before his death. Meanwhile, Gertrude drinks poison prepared for Hamlet, who then forces the King to drink the rest before stabbing him. After stopping Horatio from drinking the remainder of the poison, Hamlet dies, and the enemy, Norway, invades.Even Polonius notices that of Hamlet's 'insanity', that "though this be madness, yet there is method in 't."II.ii.204-205 On the surface, Hamlet's reasoning for feigning madness could be seen as unclear. However, his reasons are logical and feasible. He feels he needs adequate proof that Claudius has in fact killed Old Hamlet. A person who is mad often has their comprehension and credibility discounted. Thus, Hamlet hopes that the other characters- mostly Claudius- will disregard his presence, leaving him to plot the revenge without having to deflect suspicions.Something that makes Hamlet's sanity believable is his complete understanding that he alone controls his psyche. He says, "I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft." III.iv.189-190. This means that he is not mad, but is acting strangely in the way that he does things, and for a reason. His completely comprehensive and coherent conversation with the gravediggers, especially regarding his own 'madness' exemplifies this. A person who was mad would not have the ability to carry out a coherent conversation with other people, and would definitely not be able to go on to...

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