Krishna of revenge. This is evident through Hamlet

Krishna Sardana

Ms. Phillips

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English 12 Honors Online Academy

30 January 2018

Is Hamlet Sane or Insane?

            Hamlet, the main character of the
play, has always had a sense of mystery around him that the audience could
never seem to understand. Hamlet seems depressed throughout the play and is
seen contemplating suicide and murder throughout. This brings up the question
of whether Hamlet is sane and simply acting mad or is actually mad. There are
literary excerpts of the play supporting both
conclusions but there is only one conclusion that has more support. Hamlet is
not mad and was just trying to convince his family and friends that he was in
order to further his plan of revenge. This is evident through Hamlet talking to
Horatio and Marcellus about putting on an antic disposition after seeing the
ghost of Hamlet Sr., revealing his true sanity to Guildenstern and his mother,
and his subtle humor throughout the play.

Hamlet is seen to be mad throughout
the play, but the first sign of Hamlet acting mad and not actually being mad is
when he talks to Horatio and Marcellus after seeing the ghost of Hamlet Sr. who
tells Hamlet that he was murdered by King Claudius. Hamlet swears to get
revenge and continues by saying, “As I perchance hear after shall think meet to
put on an antic disposition” (Hamlet 1.5.890-891). Hamlet is telling Marcellus
and Horatio that he will put on an antic disposition meaning that he will act
like someone he isn’t. Therefore, Hamlet begins to act like he is mad in order
to make Claudius feel no threat from Hamlet. Additionally, Hamlet has to keep
this antic disposition character in front of all the other characters in the
play because he doesn’t know when he is being watched or talking to a spy.

            Even though
Hamlet establishes an antic disposition in front of many characters in the
play, he does hint the
truth about his sanity to some characters as the play progresses. When Hamlet
is talking to Guildenstern in the second act, Guildenstern asks him about why
Hamlet believes that his parents have the wrong idea about him. Hamlet responds
with, “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk
from a handsaw” (Hamlet 2.2.l406-1407). Hamlet is saying that he acts mad
sometimes, but otherwise he does act sane and is aware of his surroundings.
Therefore, Hamlet is hinting to Guildenstern that he has the ability to be
completely sane, but there is some reason behind him acting mad at the current
time. Another scene where Hamlet reveals his reasons for his actions of
insanity is to Gertude, Hamlet’s mother, when Gertrude claims that Hamlet is
seeing the ghost of Hamlet Sr. due to his madness; “This the very coinage of
your brain. This bodiless creation ecstasy/ Is very cunning in” (Hamlet
3.4.2437-2439). However, Hamlet says, “Mother, for love of grace,/ Lay not that
flattering unction to your soul/ That not your trespass but my madness speaks” (Hamlet
3.4.2445-2447). Hamlet is saying to his mother that she should not let herself
think that his madness is causing him to lose his mind, but in reality it is
her “trespass” which was that she married King Claudius so quickly after Hamlet
Sr.’s death. Moreover, the thought of Hamlet’s mother remarrying is making him
act like how he is and not the madness that Gertrude claims.

            During the
instances of the play when Hamlet had put on an antic disposition in front of
the other characters of the play, Hamlet displays his sanity by using subtle
humor. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern approach Hamlet to ask him where he
hid Polonius’ dead body,
Hamlet will not give them a straight answers and uses dry humor to say that
Rosencratz is being used by Claudius; “Ay, sir, that soaks up the king’s
countenance, his rewards, his authorities…when he needs what you have gleaned,
it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again” (Hamlet
4.2.2479-2450, 2582-2584). This dry humor shows that Hamlet is taking into
account his surroundings. In fact, in present time, the first test that a
physician does to check a patient’s mental state is see if they can see judge
and understand their surroundings. Therefore, Hamlet would even check out in
present time for being mentally stable or sane. Additionally, when Hamlet was
talking to Osric, he keeps convincing Osric to take on and off his hat because
Hamlet either felt it was either too hot or cold for one; “It is indifferent
cold, my lord, indeed,…Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry,” (Hamlet
5.2.3572,3574). Hamlet is mocking Osric by proving that he will do anything and
agree to any opinion just to please royalty. Hamlet is able to understand
people’s flaws which is another piece of evidence that proves Hamlet is sane.

            The
question of Hamlet’s
sanity was contemplated throughout the play due to his unusual and
contradictory actions. In the beginning of the play, Hamlet clearly states that
he will be putting on an antic disposition in order to deceive Claudius and the
other character in the play. Going further into the play, Hamlet hints to
Guildenstern and his mother that there are reasons for his madness and is
actually completely sane. In addition, Hamlet shows his connection with reality
by using humor as a way to mock other characters indirectly showing his ability
to understand his surroundings which only a sane person can do. Therefore,
Hamlet has given enough evidence to say that he is sane and is acting mad to
further his one and only goal: revenge.