Hamlet Essay

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Hamlet and his Games

In the play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, Prince Hamlet uses many double meaning phrases to speak his mind to the audience and the other characters in the play. "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw" (II.ii.387-8). This is a classic example of the "wild and whirling words" with which Hamlet hopes to persuade people to believe that he is mad. These words, however, prove that beneath his "antic disposition," Hamlet is very sane indeed. Beneath his strange choice of imagery involving points of the compass, the weather, and hunting birds, he is announcing that he is calculatedly choosing the times when to appear mad. “Hamlet feigns
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Although the response seems crazy since a fish-seller would look completely unlike the expensively dressed lord Polonius, Hamlet is actually criticizing Polonius for his management of Ophelia, since "fishmonger" is Elizabethan slang for "pimp." He plays mind-games with Polonius, getting him in crazy talk to agree first that a cloud looks like a camel, then a weasel and finally a whale, and in a very sane aside, he then comments that "[t]hey fool me to the top of my bent" (III.ii.392). Although he appears to have lost touch with reality, he keeps reminding us that he is not at all "far gone, far gone" (II.ii.190) as Polonius claims, but is in fact very much in command of himself and the situation. With his rantings and ravings and his seemingly Pg. 3 useless pacing of the lobby, Hamlet manages to appear quite mad. The naïve and trusting Ophelia believes in and is devastated by what she sees as his downfall: " O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! / . . . The expectancy and rose of the fair state / . . . quite, quite down!" (III.i.153,5,6). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are also fully convinced. They are Hamlet's equals in age but are far inferior in intellect and therefore don't understand that he is faking. However, although Hamlet manages to convince these simple friends and Ophelia of his insanity, other

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