Is Hamlet Mad or Mad in Craft?
Madness is defined as the state of being mentally ill or having extremely foolish behavior. It is a condition in which is difficult to identify whether it is true or not. In William Shakespeare's masterpiece, Hamlet, there is confusion as to whether or not his madness is real. The ghost of his father asks Hamlet to avenge his death. While he tries to accomplish this, he puts on an antic disposition. The antic disposition reoccurs throughout the play, but is merely an act. Hamlet is mad in craft because he admits that he is not mad several times, he behaves irrational only in front of certain individuals, and he has many feigned actions.
From the very start, the ghost of Hamlet’s father tells him that
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Many of Hamlet’s actions can be seen as feigned, which he uses it to his advantage. The interaction between Hamlet and the ghost of his father in front of his mother is all an act to make his mother think he is crazy. Gertrude, not being able to see the ghost, says to Hamlet, "No, nothing but ourselves...this is the very coinage of your brain. This bodiless creation ecstasy is very cunning in" (3.4.139-145). She explains to him that she cannot see anyone besides themselves in the room. Gertrude is bound to think Hamlet is mad since she sees him talking to nobody. The audience knows that Hamlet is not in fact mad and is actually talking to the ghost of his father. Hamlet uses his feigned madness to an advantage earlier on in the play as well when he is talking to Polonius and says, "Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum..." (2.2.197-200). Hamlet cleverly insults Polonius here and his wit shows how he is not mad. By feigning his madness, it allows him to speak whatever is on his mind without anyone being suspicious. While the play is going on, Hamlet does exactly this with Ophelia by making sexual remarks to her when he says, "That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs” (3.2.125). Expressing his feelings induces reactions from others just as he wants. Stating what is on his mind allows him to speak his true feelings and still feel