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Hamlet and Madness
Transcript of Hamlet and Madness
Hamlet's madness is a contentious issue. Is his madness mere pretence or is he genuinely mad?
Hamlet uses madness as a tactic to confront Claudius.
Antic disposition and false appearances
Hamlet tells Horation that he will pretend to be mad.
Hamlet appears to be a slave to passion.
Hamlet's "antic disposition" allows him to ridicule the falseness and hypocrisy of Polonius, Rosentcratz and Guildenstern.
His madness allows his to freely express his feelings of anger and bitterness.
Hamlet believes he is living in a world of false appearances. The characters all lie to him and his madness is a tool for survival.
His portrayal of madness is not always convincing. Claudius feels particularly threatened by his false madness.
Nonetheless characters try to explain Hamlet's madness thus showing their confusion.
He appears mad at as many events as possible.
He tells people that he is not always mad.
Hamlet is clearly under mental and emotional pressure.
He is incoherent after seeing his father's ghost.
He appears disheveled and his facial appearance is anguished.
He loses self-control. He cannot treat those his loves with reasonable emotion.
His madness is essentially an act to help him confront his deadly conflict with Claudius.
Hamlet struggles to retain the balance of his mind but the final act shows a Hamlet who is composed, clear-minded and rational.
English Key Notes
, Mentor Books