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Hamlet’s Antic Disposition: Less Than Madness, More Than Feigned

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Kasia Wisniewski

on 25 November 2015

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Transcript of Hamlet’s Antic Disposition: Less Than Madness, More Than Feigned

Writting Style
Iambic Pentameter: a line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.
Antic disposition means a frivolous or deliberate playfulness. It may also mean bizarre, irrational or threatening behavior closer to madness than madcap.

In order to fake one's insanity well enough for others to believe it, one must truly feel extreme emotions within oneself, to portray the antic disposition.
What is Antic Disposition?
Aspects of Hamlet's Antic Dispostion Being Real
Hamlet in a way, can be seen as bipolar when he finishes his "To be or not to be" solilquy, because his emotions flip like a switch. He snaps on Ophelia, which in a way shows some true madness, as Ophelia was his one true love.
Ophelia's Insanity vs. Hamlets Antic Disposition
Ophelia in Act IV, becomes insane, but how is it different form Hamlets?
Thesis Statement
Hamlet’s Antic Disposition:
Less Than Madness, More Than Feigned.

Kasia Wisniewski
Chelsea Bradley

"Of if thou wilt needs marry,marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go" (III,i,138-140).
It does take some level of insanity to say the things he does to Ophelia
Emotions play a large role in Hamlet's antic disposition. They are seen as proof of true madness, yet Hamlet was not a man of action; he was a man of true passion. He overexaggerates his emtions in a way that could seen insane.
Displays of Anger and Fury
Displays of Sadness and Depression
Hamlet on many occations has displayed scenes of anger and hatred especially for his uncle.
At the beginning of the play, Hamlet is displayed as a depressed character.
In his "too too sullied flesh" soliloquy, he explains how his mother "married- O most wicked speed! To post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!" (I,II,156-7)
He is sad over the death of his father, and it only becomes worse when others around him assume he shouldn't be greiving for so long.
He has much hatered for his uncle, especially when he finally gets his revenge, he says, "Here, incestuous, murd'rous, damed Dane/ Drink off this potion." (V, II, 31-9) Not only does he stab him with a poisoned sword, but he makes him drink the potion aswell.
"How is it that the clouds still hang on you?" (I, ii, 66)

"Cast thy nighted colour off....Thou know'st 'tis common: all that lives must die" (I, ii, 68, 72).
Some things Hamlet says and does to his uncle seem mad, for no one would treat a King this way. They are, however passion, not madness.
Displays of Anger and Fury
Hamlet also acts out on the women he loves around him, like Gerturde and Ophelia.
Hamlet's sadness is worsened when his mother hastily marries his uncle. It causes him to fall into a depression, so deep that he wished that his "sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew" (I, ii, 129-130). He wishes that his skin would melt so he would no longer exist and no longer have to feel the pain he was feeling.
Hamlet gets very aggressive when it comes to confronting this mother after the play within the play. He says,
"Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty!" (III,IV,92-4)
Displays of Sadness and Depression
Hamlet's depression's becomes deeper upon discovering that Claudius, his uncle, is the one who killed his father.
He confronts Ophelia when she returns the letters he wrote her. He ends up again yelling and being quite aggressive with her, to the point of driving her truely insane.
The ghost of the king visits young Hamlet with news that it was indeed Claudius who killed him, and that he wishes for Hamlet to seek revenge on his behalf. This puts Hamlet in an even greater depression, but nobody knows that he's more depressed now then ever.
"I have heard of your paintings well enough. God hath
given you one face and you make yourselves another.
You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname Gods
creatures, and make your wantoness your ignorance.(III,I,142-5)
He puts on his antic disposition in front of others, but when he is alone, the readers see how truly depressed he really is.
This is shown in Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, where Hamlet contemplates whether or not to live or die (to be or not to be). He is overwhelmed with his pain, and wants an escape. He knows he has a mission to complete, so he cannot die nor kill himself.
Hamlets Anger and Fury
Hamlets anger can be seen as madness. No one knows about his revenge, which is why he comes off as crazy.
Displays of Humor
Hamlet pokes fun at Polonius, which with what he says can sound crazy, but he really is insulting him.
"Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?"
"By th' mass and 'tis- like a camel indeed."
"Methinks it is like a weasel."
"Its is backed like a weasel."
"Or like a whale."
"Very like a whale."
III, II, 360-6
He also says, "Excellent well. You are a fishmonger."(II,II,174)
Prose: written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.
Hamlet when putting on the antic disposition, he never speaks in verse, but he speaks in prose. Even though he is a main character, when he's acting insane. However when he speaks to people who know about his antic disposition, he speaks in iambic pentameter.
Displays of Sadness and Depression
Finally, Hamlet's depression is also clearly displayed throughout his "O what a peasant slave am I" soliloquy.
Hamlet is planning the play where he has instrcted the players to include an extra 12-16 lines where Hamlet retells the murder of his beloved father. In doing so, he hopes that he'll cause Claudius to act out of guilt and prove that it really was him that killed his father, not just the ghost making up lies.
Hamlet uses this soliloquy as a "woe is me" where he proclaims his frustration with himself, yet all he does is "like a whore unpack [his] heart with words /And fall a-cursing like a very drab" (II, ii, 572-573).
"A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing- no, not for a king
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?" (II, ii, 553-557)›™
Hamlet puts himself down in this soliloquy, his frustration over not bringing himself to kill the king and depression over the situation he got himself into only further growing.
The only things he finds himself doing is complaining about the issue, instead of actually doing anything about his father's murder.
Hamlet's emotions are felt all throughout the play and they help him to plan his revenge against Claudius, and help with his antic disposition distraction, yet they merely exaggerated heavily with his passion, not with his madness
"I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is/ southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw" (II,ii, 368-369).
Ophelia sings when she encounters the King, Queen, and Horatio, and most of what she says doesnt make sense, but here songs do have some logic in them.
"By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack and fie for shame,
Young men will do't if they come to't-
By cock, they are to blame.
Qouth she, 'Before you tumbled me,
You promis'd me to wed.
He answers
'So would I a done, by yonder,
And thou hadst not come to my bed."

"I essentially am not in madness, / But mad in craft" (III, iv, 189-190).
She hints the relationship that her and Hamlet could and most likely have had.
While putting on his antic disposition, Hamlet repeatedly drops hints that he truly is sane.
Unlike Hamlet, Ophelia is truely mad, and with her odd death, it really shows.
According to the footnotes, Hamlet is explaining that his mad moods would be affected by the direction of the wind. With knowing a "hawk from a handsaw," he is hinting to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he knows why they are there talking to him. He still does understand what is happening around him.
Hamlet tells Gertrude that he is not mad, but merely acting in order to catch the King as the murderer.
"Have you a daughter?" (II, ii, 182)
Most of Hamlet's conversations with Polonius are comedic because of his antic disposition and Polonius's reactions to what Hamlet says. Hamlet asks Polonius if he has a daughter, very well knowing that he is the father of the woman he loves. Polonius responds with a simple yes, because he does not know what else to say to Hamlet due to his madness.
"Where's your father?" (III, i, 130).
Thesis Statement Number Two
Though Hamlet experiences many emotions within and out of his Antic Disposition, the literary devices and writing styles Shakespeare used shows that Hamlet is truly sane.
Again, like when Hamlet is talking to Polonius, Hamlet knows exactly what is happening around him. He knows Polonius and Claudius are hiding, listening in on his and Ophelia's conversation.

Hamlet is not mad, but feels the same emotions as a man whom would be. His emotions are exaggerated immensly, to the point where it could seem like he is mad, but he truly isn´t. He is just angry with Claudius and the situation he has found himself in; and depressed about the death of his father and the hasty marriage between his mother and uncle.
He uses the emotions he already feels, and exaggerates them to be able to perfectly portray a man of madness, but it is all just an act.
It is proven that Hamlet is not insane with Shakesperae's writing style. He uses Iambic Petameter with the major characters. When a character speaks in no verse, they are either not important or insane. When Hamlet is speaking in no verse, he is merely acting insane. Any other time, like when he is alone performing a soliloquy, he speaks in iambic petameter. With his quotes, he hints that he isn' t actually insane. Ophelia's madness was real because when she was speaking to anybody, it was in no verse. Her sudden and strange death also proves that she was truly insane.
To conclude, shakespeare made Hamlet appear to be insane, with his overexaggerated emotions, but with the hints that were said and the writing style of the play, it is proven that Hamlet isn't insane.
Ophelia can be as a Foil to Hamlet
She revels the different emotions Hamlet feels, that maybe he wouldn't show with anyother character. They bother feel depressed with there fathers deaths, and act/are mad.
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