The Antic Disposition in Hamlet

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The character of Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name is one of the more complex and interesting characters in the western canon – in attempting to take revenge on his uncle Claudius for his alleged murder of Hamlet’s father, the young prince feigns insanity in order to get the man’s guard down and keep him off balance until finding the right time to strike. However, the question remains – by the end of the play, just how much is Hamlet pretending to be insane? Is it really an act, or has Hamlet really taken on an “antic disposition” as Hamlet vows to put on (I.v.172)? While it can be confirmed that Hamlet’s insanity is more or less a ruse, his own dedication to his task, as well as the uncertainty he has about following…show more content…
The distracted and uncertain nature of Hamlet at this time seems to suggest at least a moment of madness immediately following the appearance of the ghost (Simon 714). The insanity of Hamlet can be discerned partly in his indecisiveness; the constant worrying and waffling over whether or not to take his revenge and when is a clear sign of his mental instability. Hamlet makes many attempts to kill Claudius, but is always stopped by his own indecisiveness, finding all manner of excuses to not go through with it. In one instance, he finds Claudius praying and finds his perfect chance, but he does not go through with it. He refrains because, if Claudius is slain while praying, he will end up in heaven, and that is not what Hamlet wants. In the end, Hamlet’s own search for vengeance is his undoing, and also spells doom for many around him. He accidentally kills Polonius because he thinks he is a spy, while causes his love Ophelia to drown herself in grief. This perpetuates the cycle of revenge, as her suitor Laertes seeks a duel against Hamlet, which leads to the deaths of the both of them, in addition to Claudius and Gertrude. Laertes even seems to accept that his own actions led to his death - "I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery" (V.ii.12). To that end, Hamlet’s insanity and
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