Hamlet's Antic Disposition Essay

1514 words - 6 pages

Hamlet's Antic Disposition

     In William Shakespeare's famous tragedy Hamlet, the main character of the story is one majestically elaborated, aside from being quite complex. There are infinite volumes written about this character because Shakespeare leaves no firm proof of many of his character traits. Yet on Hamlet's antic disposition, meaning his obviously absurd temperament or madness, Shakespeare leaves plenty of reason to believe that it is feigned, meaning that it is simply a ploy to help Hamlet carry out his plans for revenge. It is feigned, meaning that it is faked, merely put on as a façade. This is denoted in various aspects of his antic disposition. Hamlet's antic disposition is self imposed, meaning that he himself decides to appear "mad", assuming the antic disposition willingly because he thinks it meet. It is methodical because there is a system to it. He is able to turn it on and off when he has reason for it; other characters in the play notice it and Hamlet himself states it. Finally, Hamlet's madness is also clever because it allows him to express himself and his thoughts clearly, and through comments full of wit that show his awareness of reality when he mocks other characters in their faces without their noticing. Therefore, Hamlet's antic disposition is not true madness; rather it is feigned because it is self imposed, methodical and clever.


Hamlet's antic disposition is self imposed, meaning that he chooses to impose this disposition upon himself. He willingly appears to be mad in order to obtain all he wants. This comes up in the situation after Hamlet has seen his father's ghost and is with Horatio and Marcellus. He, on this occasion warns them that he does "think meet to put an antic disposition on" (Shakespeare Act I, Scene v, line 196) giving the reader full reason to understand that he is doing so willingly, and he will use his antic disposition as a tool to help things turn out favorable to him. In other words, he tells them that he will merely act "antic" but not be truly mad. He then tells them, still there in the graveyard, that they should note they "know aught of (him)" (Shakespeare Act I, Scene v, line 205) so that no one will know of his secret willingness to act crazy. By telling them this he ensures that he will not be exposed by their testimony, since they have been sworn to secrecy. This also explains why Horatio, very close to Hamlet and always by his side, never questions Hamlet's sanity, because he knows it is merely a means to an end, a show that will serve his purpose. Yet there is one that strongly questions Hamlet's mental state; King Claudius. Claudius is unsure of Hamlet's mental state. Even he, the audience for whom the show is put up for, doubts Hamlet's madness because he knows Hamlet is a man of greatness; someone perfectly able of achieving what he sets his mind to. The King doubts him because he knows of his great capacity; clearly shown when he says to Polonius "Madness...

Find Another Essay On Hamlet's Antic Disposition

Hamlet - antic disposition Essay

1576 words - 6 pages comments on his actions. "Hamlet's madness was for his own protection" (Term paper - Hamlet) and he "fully embraces his role" (Was Prince Hamlet a Wacko?). It is also said that Hamlet played the role of the antic to suit that of the chaotic world surrounding him. "Hamlet was not mad, but merely pretended to be mad in order to test the claims of the Ghost" (York Notes). Hamlet may have first been given the idea of putting on an antic disposition from

Hamlet Essay

854 words - 3 pages ., but the only difference this time is all his friends are convinced of what he has told them. This helps to progression a theory that Hamlet has actually gone mad and is no longer in a state of "antic disposition," which progresses Hamlet's flaws into a fatal format.Much like his two previous flaws, Hamlet's inability to take action is also a source of his untimely demise. After Hamlet's first encounter with the ghost, he swears to take vengeance on

To what extent does hamlet retain his sanity after claiming to put an antic disposition on?

1758 words - 7 pages antic disposition, and to test his acting ability, as he can judge by her reactions whether or not his 'madness' is feasible.In the face of other characters, Hamlet seems sane. Horatio is a trusted friend of Hamlet's, possibly from university. He is Hamlet's pinnacle for advice and comfort during this difficult stage in his life. Horatio is the person that Hamlet tells he will be faking insanity, and he remains his confidante for the rest of the

Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Madness in Hamlet

801 words - 3 pages Madness in Hamlet        Hamlet's choice to put on an "antic disposition" leads to his downfall; it is a tragic error in judgement (hamartia) which destroys his relationship with Ophelia and Gertrude. It is Hamlet's hubris. Another result from Hamlet's peculiar actions, is that in his own mind he begins to believe that he is mad.  It is unfortunate that Hamlet's plan did not succeed; not only did it lead to his own downfall but he had to

The Message of Hamlet.

954 words - 4 pages . Hamlet going crazy is why he uses his pride and status to hide his true feelings from those around. No one but Hamlet's family of orientation and his new father know exactly how angry, depressed, and mad Hamlet is getting. Consciously, Hamlet believes he is in a normal state of mind and because of this he decides to put on an antic disposition; "As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on." (I; v; 171-172) His antic

Madness and Sanity in Hamlet

892 words - 4 pages really mad?When the ghost first asked him to seek revenge, Hamlet said "I purchase here after shall think meet to put an antic disposition on (1, 5, 191-192)." Hamlet's plan is to pretend to be mad and eventually kill Claudius. No one really knows if he was indeed faking his madness, though that is what he claimed to Horatio. Hamlet could seek revenge as a result of madness, or he could be indeed faking insane behavior as a result of his plan to

The Mask of Hamlet

847 words - 3 pages The Mask of Hamlet       When people put on a mask or costume it is usually because they are trying to hide themselves or portray a certain feeling to onlookers. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet puts on a "antic disposition" as a strategy to get closer to Claudius. Hamlet tells his friends this by saying (I,iv,170-173) "how strange or odd some'er I bear myself (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on), That

Hamlet by William Shakespeare- antic disposition

1921 words - 8 pages 'At the end of Act I, Hamlet says that he intends to assume an "antic disposition", yet there is evidence in Act II to suggest that his mental disturbance is genuine' Discuss this statement with reference to Act II, explaining whether you believe that Hamlet's madness is real or feigned.Throughout Act II the audience gathers from sources other than Hamlet that he is "mad". After his declaration in Act I that he will "put an antic disposition on


562 words - 2 pages In Shakespeare'sHamlet, there has been an unanswered question to whether Hamlet has truly gone mad or if he's put on an antic disposition. I believe that Hamlet has not gone mad and he is fully sane. Although at times it may appear that his behaviour is abnormal or crazy, Hamlet is simply a man dealing with the impossible. Hamlet's sadness and anger is completely understandable considering the situation he is in. To assume that Hamlet has a

Imagery Evoked in Hamlet

903 words - 4 pages schoolfellows/Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd" (Shakespeare IV1202-203). One other character which allows us to take a good look at appearances versus reality is Hamlet. The most famous example of this theme would be Hamlet's "antic disposition" (Shakespeare I5171) which we learn later in the play is in fact, just a act "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind/is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw

Fortinbras, Laertes and Horatio, as Foils to Hamlet

1103 words - 4 pages intelligence and analytical mind. However, as Hamlet descends into his feigned madness and falls victim to his powerful emotions, Horatio serves primarily to emphasize Hamlet's weaknesses. As Hamlet's antic disposition becomes increasingly real, Horatio is his only anchor to reality, as a "man that is not passion's slave" (III, 2, 74). Being "e'en as just a man / As e'er [Hamlet's] conversation cop'd withal" (III, 2, 56), Hamlet relies increasingly on

Similar Essays

Hamlet's Antic Disposition Essay

884 words - 4 pages Hamlet's Antic Disposition         [See Hamlet, II.ii.159-185 in which Polonius proposes to use his daughter Ophelia as a bait for Hamlet, while Polonius and Claudius conceal themselves behind an arras; at which point Hamlet enters unexpectedly and is spoken to by Polonius]     Everything that Hamlet here says is capable of an equivocal interpretation reflecting upon Polonius and Ophelia

Hamlet And His Antic Disposition Essay

621 words - 2 pages Hamlet's idea of pretending to become crazy so that he can take revenge on his father's death was a bad strategy. In doing this Hamlet ran onto a lot of problems. The situations like the death of Ophelia, his fighting with his mother, trying to fool the King and Polonius, his own downfall and finally his death all illustrate why. Hamlet's antic disposition made him lose control of his own actions and resulted in Hamlet losing everything.Hamlet's

The Importance Of Maintaining Moral Order As It Relates To Hamlet By William Shakespeare's

1031 words - 4 pages Shakespeare's Hamlet, Denmark is thrown into chaos by the reckless actions of several characters that fail to follow the moral order. Hamlet is instructed by the ghost of his beloved father to restore order to Denmark and seek revenge on Claudius, the present king of Denmark and murderer of his father. By identifying the various levels of disorder in Denmark an evaluation of the effectiveness of Hamlet's "antic disposition" as a plan to restore order will

Was Hamlet Melancholic Or Crazy? Essay

3631 words - 15 pages would then be is Hamlet actually mad or melancholic rather, or is it all a feigned guise? Ironically, Hamlet's name is derived from an Old Norse Amlođi meaning "fool, ninny and idiot," also, more interestingly, it comes from a Juttish trickster who feigned stupidity.1 Hamlet's madness is derived from intentional and unintentional sources: Hamlet determines that he is feigning an "antic disposition,"2 while at the same time he is deeply