The question whether Hamlet was mad or not raises different views, as individuals give varying opinions on the matter. Nevertheless, my position is that Hamlet was not mad. He was not mad because he admitted to be feigning madness with the intention of getting revenge against King Claudius, the murderer of his father. Another piece of evidence, illustrating that he was not mad, was his ability to come up with a plan to prove Claudius was guilty. More so, he proved that he was not mad when he was able to overcome the feeling from Polonius, Claudius, and Ophelia that he has not driven mad by the love for Ophelia. Hamlet was not mad at any given instance, he was just brilliant enough to feign madness to avoid any suspicion in his plan to investigate and revenge against King Claudius for killing his father.
Firstly, Hamlet was only feigning madness to ensure that he was not suspected by King Claudius in the course of trying to get revenge. It was clear that King Claudius would have easily suspected him if he would have come out clearly as a sane person and would have ultimately killed him, making it difficult for him to revenge for his “ghost father”. In Act 1, scene 5, after his encounter with the ghost, he swore to Marcellus and Horatio of his plan to feign madness by saying, “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet/ To put an antic disposition on…” (Branagh, Christie and Jacobi 1996) Accordingly, it is this ‘antic disposition’ that led to confusion in his character with some people suspecting that he was mad. However, the intention was only to feign madness to effectively launch the plan to revenge on behalf of his father without suspicion from the King
Secondly, it is evident that Hamlet was not mad, based on his response to the speculation that his affection for Ophelia was driving him mad. With his initial advances, Ophelia had suspected that Hamlet was mad because of his insistence of affection for her. However, this turned out to be a different story when Polonius and Claudius decided to put him together with Ophelia to test his madness, he evades this test by stating, “Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst though be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me” (Branagh, Christie and Jacobi 1996). This was a clear illustration that he was not, in fact, being driven mad by the love to Ophelia, but by the anger that his mother had rushed into a marriage with a man who murdered his own father.
Another relevant piece of evidence that clearly proves that Hamlet was not mad was the fact that he came up with a brilliant plan to prove Claudius’ guilt. A mad person would not have the opportunity and chance of proving the guilt of a killer, especially in the case of King Claudius. He was keen to the extent that he did not disclose his plan to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because this would have negated the whole plan. A mad person cannot have such a strategy in mind. For instance, when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern asked him about his madness, while he was secretly planning to prove Claudius’ guilt, he brilliantly answered, “My uncle-father, and aunt-mother, are deceived…/I am mad north-north-west” (Branagh, Christie and Jacobi 1996). This only means that he was trying to lie to them that he was only occasionally mad to avoid continued investigation of his actions and plan.
In conclusion, Hamlet was not mad, as it might be perceived by some people, because he needed a strategy to deal with King Claudius. It would have been difficult for him to act sane if he wanted to get the results out of his investigations. Thus, he wanted to use ‘madness’ to effectively revenge against Claudius. He was also able to prove that he was not mad through his response to what Ophelia claimed to be ‘mad’ love. The problem is that he was deeply disgusted by his mother’s behavior to marry a person who had killed his father and taken over the throne.
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