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Hamlet as an Antic Disposition (Essay Sample)


Describe Hamlet’s Insanity as an Antic Disposition

Hamlet's Insanity as an Antic Disposition
Thesis statement: Hamlet's insanity is antic dispositions to enable him avenge his father's murder.
* Introduction
* Introduction device, thesis and supporting statements.
* Body
* Analysis of Hamlet's actions
* Analysis of Hamlet's words
* Analysis of what Ophelia and Claudius think of Hamlet
* Conclusion : Hamlet's insanity was a necessary act to see him through his revenge mission
Hamlet's Insanity as an Antic Disposition
The question of Hamlets sanity is widely debated over. At the beginning of the play, it is clear that Hamlet is faking his insanity in an effort to avenge his father's death. However, as the play progresses, his actions and words reveal and individual with a supposed confused state of mind to the point that the audience is left pondering if he has finally succumbed to real insanity. According to (Szasz), insane people rarely have the ability to maintain objectivity in their actions. An analysis of Hamlets characters and actions defy insanity as described above. Additionally, his insanity was a matter of choice rather than as a reaction to events. Hamlet was undergoing a mixture of emotions of anger, bitterness and melancholy. The need to avenge his father's death was greater than the need to enjoy the passions of life. Upon learning of his father's death, he says “O villain, villain, and smiling, damned villain (1.2.223). This need for revenge is what keeps Hamlet focused on his plan for revenge. It is vital to note that he suffers from a great deal of anxiety due to his desire to appease his father's spirit.
Even in his display of insanity, an underlying state of sanity is evident. It is his sanity that enables him sustains his acts of insanity. Unlike insane people, he shows he is an individual capable of utilizing common sense. He unmasks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who have been sent by the king to spy on him. He does this while in an insane state. He says “I know the good king and queen sent you”. He arrives at this conclusion from deductive reasoning. He considers the visit unexpected and thus suspects foul play. As it will be discussed in the essay, an analysis of Hamlet's actions and words together with what other characters say about his condition leads to one conclusion: Hamlet's supposed insanity is an antic disposition to enable him avenge his father's death.
Hamlet's actions after the appearance of his father's ghosts can be classified as insane but they are indicative of the programming of a sane individual. His insanity is an antic disposition; he vowed to adopt this act. “I will act strange or odd, and put an antic disposition on “. (1.5. 170, 172) it is vital to note that Hamlet is in control of his insanity and not the other way round. He objectively created it and he would not drop it until the purpose is fulfilled. Throughout the play, he does not drop this act not because the insanity has taken control of his life but because its purpose has not been fulfilled yet. He knows when to snap out of this act. He strategically plots the play within a play and conveniently places Claudius in a compromising position while acting insane. In act two, he says “… wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king” (2.2.606-607).
Comparing these words with his actions in the play, it is clear that he remains objective throughout the play. An act that is hardly insane. He had set his mind on uncovering the truth. By focusing on the king's reaction, He is able to connect it with the underlying emotion of guilt. He snaps out of this insanity and goes ahead to kill him. According to (Elliot), insanity controls the mind and actions of an individual making it difficult for one to balance thought and action. This is not the case for Hamlet; he conveniently acts insane as enabled by his sane mind. He refuses to kill Claudius when opportunity presents itself since he does not want to send Claudius' soul to heaven. The foresight in this instance is highly indicative of a sane mind.
(Hibbard) argues that Hamlet's insanity is best analyzed by focusing on what he himself says about his condition. When people see, act or experience things that lack logical explanations they are considered insane. Hamlet is aware of the characteristics of insane people which he chooses to adapt to look insane. His own words give him away; they portray an individual aware of how he must act in order to be considered insane. Aware of the importance of his antic disposition, he deliberately acts insane during the play. After he and Horatio have completed setting up the scene of the play, he says…I must be idle... (3.2.85). As the play within a play progresses, the insane Hamlet is a deliberate result of the sane Hamlet's words. He is aware of his surrounding and he is in fact waiting for evidence that Claudius is indeed guilty of killing his father.
Although Claudius fails to confess his guilt, the sanity in Hamlet's insanity deducts this guilt from the king's reaction. Additionally, Hamlet is aware that he is not insane. He knows that he is still capable of reasoning and remaining objective. He is aware of the truth and he knows he is capable of avenging his father's death just like any other sane person. To Hamlet, the madness is a plot to enable his revenge. To Gertrude he says, I essentially am not in madness, But mad in craft (3.4.188-187). Clearly, the insanity is a craft. He alludes that he is aware of how mad his tactics are but again he is sure that he is still in control of the craft he created. His words show that Hamlet is still in touch with reality but acting insane is a choice he has made.
It is vital to put into consideration the opinion of other characters (Corum). Through them, the audience gets to understand the effectiveness of Hamlets act. Contrary to what insanity is, Hamlet has repeatedly managed to achieve the same effect by putting up the same act. Through his actions and self-presentation, he managed to convince Ophelia that he had lost his mind. Ophelia describes him to her father as a man with a look so piteous in purpose, as if he had been loosed out of hell, to speak of horrors (2. 1. 81-83). From these lines, it is established that Hamlet has been successful in his antic. He has the look of a madman. At this point, it is easy to assume that he has succumbed to his insanity. However, later in the third act, he proves the audience wrong when he shows he is in control of his mind. This ability to achieve a predetermined result is an act of a genius mind rather than that of an insane mind.
There is no doubt that Hamlet's mind is not at rest. He is in a deep state of melancholy, having to deal with the loss of his father and the betrayal of an uncle. Just like her father, Ophelia falls for this act and assumes that this insanity is as a result of her staying away from him. However, incoherence of thought does not necessarily indicate insanity. Claudius is himself aware of this fact. He alludes Hamlet's state more to melancholy rather than madness. Upon sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on him he says, â&...
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