Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Hamlet, is a story of madmen and murders. The problems begin when Hamlet sees his deceased father as a restless ghost. His father’s ghost explains to Hamlet that he must avenge his death at the hands of his brother, the current king, Claudius. Hamlet realizes he must feign mental instability while foraging for acknowledgment of guilt from his uncle, Claudius. Though Hamlet does avenge his father's death, as the tale unfolds, it becomes clear that the endeavor heavily taxes his mind and pushes him to the brink of madness.
After his encounter with the ghost of his father, Hamlet becomes increasingly consternated and paranoid. This is clear when he questions if “the spirit that [he has] seen / May be the devil” (2.2.50) because he believes the devil may have tricked him by assuming “a pleasing shape” (2.2.50). However, Hamlet’s self-doubt quickly twists itself into stubborn resolution when the specter reminds him that “The serpent that did sting thy father's life / Now wears his crown.”
As Hamlet's disbelief morphs into a cold, disturbed reasoning, he develops a plan to feign insanity. He tells his friends that from then on, he will maintain “an antic disposition” (1.5.28) so as to not seem suspicious in his quest for revenge. The prince is so convincing as a madman that the king requests Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find the cause of the madness. This brings into question the true reasoning of Hamlet’s decision to put up the pretense in the first place. Acting insane does very little to assist him in seeking retribution. If anything, it makes his mission more difficult because he receives unwanted attention. Clearly, Hamlet’s conclusion that acting insane would help, was a doomed plan resulting from his shock at having seen his father’s ghost.
Under the guise of mental instability, Hamlet devises a plan to trap the king by having him observed by Horatio while watching a play with a murder similar to the one he suspects Claudius committed. After witnessing the king’s tumultuous response, Hamlet deems the king’s actions can only be those of a guilty...