Is Hamlet Mad?

3 evidence why

Asked by
Last updated by Rienzi R #645588
Answers 2
Add Yours

I don't think Hamlet is mad or crazy. Consider that Hamlet told his Horatio and Marcellus that he would put on an "antic disposition" early on in the play.Hamlet even goes as far as to imply to Rosencrantz and Guldernstern that there is craft in his perceived madness. " I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is Southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw." Hamlet wishes to point out that there is method and cunning behind his "madness." The imagery involves bad weather and hunting birds. Beyond the chaos, Hamlet is saying that he knows a hunting hawk from a hunted "handsaw" or heron. Hamlet means that he is able to distinguish his enemies and friends. This pointed comment is meant for his "friends" Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Because this is an element within the world of the play, it's really a question for whomever puts on the play. Since Hamlet is a fictional character there is no real world forensics that can determine that answer. What Shakespeare has done is incorporated the madness issue into the image and reality theme (among others). So what appears to Polonius for example is that Hamlet is mad. And he goes into great detail why he thinks that Hamlet is mad. Claudius on the other hand sees Hamlet as "mad in craft" (to quote Hamlet) because "madness in great ones must not unwatched go." In other words Claudius thinks Hamlet is acting. So now a director and an actor playing Hamlet have a wide range of acting possibilities for how mad or crafty Hamlet should be. Ultimately I think Shakespeare's point is that we cannot tell if someone is acting or not because all the world is a stage.