William Shakespeare could have started an endless debate between psychologists in his play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet does such a good job feigning madness there are times that it is almost believable. The reader is frequently reminded that the apparent madness is just an act, which is obvious because no mad person could carry out a plan for revenge so precisely. Hamlet?s word were constructed so cleverly that nobody else in the story can tell that he is not truly mad, but some people have suspicions that he isn?t mad.
After Hamlet speaks to the ghost of his father, he immediately forms a plan to get revenge. The details are very sketchy, but he tells Horatio that he is going to feign madness in an attempt to get his revenge. Hamlet tells Horatio not to worry about him and ?How strange or odd soe?er I bear myself/(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet/To put an antic disposition on),/That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,/With arms encumb?red thus, or this head-shake,/ Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,/ As ?Well, well we know,? or ?We could, an if we/ would,?/Or ?If we list to speak,? or ?There be, an if they might,?/Or such ambiguous giving out, to note/That you know aught of me ? this not to do,/ So grace and mercy at your most need help you,/Swear.? (1. 5. 195-207). Hamlet says that he is going to act mad, but that?s all it will be, an act. Only a sane person could devise a plan to convince other people he or she is mad when he or she is actually in total control of his or her mind.
Only in the presence of certain characters does Hamlet take up his act of madness. When Hamlet is around Polonius, Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, he turns on the madness act to perfection. When he is around Horatio, Marcellus, Bernardo, and the gravediggers he is perfectly sane. During the time that Hamlet speaks with the gravediggers you almost forget that he is even faking madness because there is absolutely no sign of it. The madness is very believable, but a few characters have their doubts about his madness.
Claudius was the first to suspect that Hamlet was faking the madness and plotting something bigger. While Polonius is positive that Hamlet?s madness is caused by his rejected love for Ophelia, Claudius says ?Love? His affections do not that way tend;/ Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,/Was not like madness. There?s something in his soul/ O?er which his melancholy sits on brood;/ And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose? (3. 1. 172-176).? Claudius is so sure that Hamlet is...