• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

at I essentially am not in madness, But mad in Craft"

Extracts from this document...


"That I essentially am not in madness, But mad in Craft" Consider the importance of pretence and acting in Hamlet. Do you entirely agree with Hamlet's claim? The idea of a character feigning madness is commonplace in great literary works; many authors use it to show the sanity of a character. Shakespeare has used this idea throughout the play, Hamlet. In this masterpiece, there is much debate around the protagonist, Hamlet, and whether his madness was real or feigned: literary scholars have debated this for more than four hundred years. Shakespeare uses a theme of madness in this play to illustrate how one must use deception in order to deceive others to reach the truth. Thus, in this play, the tragic hero contemplates his own moral judgements and in the process is considered mad. Hamlet claims to feign his madness, as he says to Horatio and Marcellus in Act 1 Scene 5, "How strange or odd some'er I bear myself- As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To Put an antic disposition on." This quote illustrates how Hamlet intends to pretend to be mad in order to reach the truth within this court, which Hamlet describes as, "out of joint," which once again highlights the disordered state of affairs. ...read more.


However, it could also be the ramblings of a lost and confused man, caught up in a spiral of emotions. The use of the word "craft" implies Hamlet's cunningness in his approach to revenge. He appears to think he has manipulated himself so that he retains the upper hand: this can be reinforced by Shakespeare's use of a play within a play in Act 3 Scene 2. The concept of a play within a play reinforces the idea of pretence and seeming. Hamlet's directions to the players serve to illustrate the subtle balance acting and being. Hamlet feels that the "purpose of playing" is "to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature." Therefore, acting in Hamlet's eyes would be replicating emotions exactly, as though they were real. This is where Shakespeare manipulates the audience because Hamlet's definition of successful playing may, also, therefore, be reflected in his pretence of madness. In order to feign madness, he must reflect nature exactly and it is here where the distinction becomes blurred because Hamlet himself is treading a fine line, as he attempts to sustain a pretence and thus, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine whether or not he is in fact still pretending as the play progresses. ...read more.


It is an insight in a mind filled with a whirlwind of emotions and Hamlet's use of a play would appear to simply reflect his preference to use words rather than actions, as can be seen my many of the play on words he uses in his speech. Hamlet himself says that acting must be an accurate reflection of nature and therefore, Ophelia's insanity may have provided inspiration, rather than sending him even further into his own madness. The most influential aspect of the play that has lead to this personal response is the contrast between Hamlet and Ophelia's madness. Throughout the play he maintains a high level of thought and emotional complexity and responds to all the actions of those around him, which would suggest that he is not in a world of his own created by insanity. Instead he is continually able to refute allegations of insanity when he wants be listened and adhered to, "My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time, And makes as healthful music. It is not madness That I have utter'd." Thus, it is difficult to reach a resounding decision on his "antic disposition" due to Shakespeare's accurate portrayal of a complex web of emotions; however, ultimately, it would seem he desired to reflect the potential for confusion of emotions whilst maintaining the coherency of his tragic hero. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    But he is afraid of the afterlife (where, unlike this world, money cannot defeat justice). And he is disgusted by the murder itself. Claudius is trying hard, and calls on God's angels to help him get up the courage simply to pray for God's grace.

  2. Hamlet's "antic disposition" is feigned. Discuss

    The fact that he suspects another presence to be in the room only further conveys his paranoia. In the nunnery scene of Kenneth Branagh's 'Hamlet', Hamlet hears a faints sound which gives him evidence to presume Polonius is present, however, in the original text, there is no such pause or sound.

  1. Consider how Shakespeare presents madness in the play and explain whether you think it ...

    Later in the play the text says; "It will but skin and film the ulcerous place, whiles rank corruption, mining all within, infects unseen." He is saying that corruption, like infection starts within, and the corruption of Denmark will begin with the court.

  2. "To what extent do you consider Hamlet a play which presents a patriarchal society ...

    In the play, it can be considered that women are only disempowered in a male sense. They do not play major roles in the development of the play, but their interaction with the male characters can be seen as a form of sub-plot, additional to the main events of the play.

  1. Whos there? Theatrical review.

    and not only has he stole his crown, but has also took his wife. He has not only deceived Gertrude, Hamlet and his brother by killing him, but also the whole of Denmark. What makes it worse is the extent of his deception, how Claudius knew his brothers routines and

  2. An Exploration of the Way Shakespeare Presents Madness in 'Hamlet'

    In the above quotation, Hamlet is basically wishing that his flesh would melt away! Even more revealing to Hamlet's madness is the fact that was said in a soliloquy, where Hamlet was conversing with himself. This is the first of several soliloquies in the play.

  1. Madness and Sanity of Tragic Heroes.

    By acting mad, he is unintentionally drawing attention to himself, his actions and will postpone his attempt at vengeance. The second manifestation can be seen in his treatment of Ophelia. She has done nothing to Hamlet, yet he attempts to scare her as part of his plan to seem mad.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    In the deep feeling which Bernardo has of the solemn nature of what he is about to relate, he makes an effort to master his own imaginative terrors by an elevation of style, - itself a continuation of the effort, - and by turning off from the apparition, as from

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work