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The character of Hamlet

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The character of Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is a frustratingly complex enigma who never really reveals himself completely. Though he does disclose his intentions of assuming an "antic disposition" there is an innate hint of suspicion over the validity of this statement. For it is not only Hamlets actions in front of the iniquitous and wicked people inhabiting the festering palace of Elsinore but also the people with whom he entrusts the secret of his father's spectral image that seem to resemble that of a man who is on the border of sanity. Though there are times when it is palpable that Hamlet's actions are contrived for the known alternative purposes, it becomes disturbingly obvious that Hamlet is affected by his decaying surroundings on a more psychologically damaging level. It is certainly understandable for someone who has just lost their father, and gained a stepfather to maybe act somewhat out of the norm. ...read more.


Interestingly however, Hamlet only performs his act for certain characters. Only in the presence of Gertrude, Claudius, Ophelia, Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern does he behave as a madman. These are the characters that Hamlet may have reason to suspect of a part in his father's death. In feigning madness, Hamlet confuses these characters, in hope of learning the truth of the murder of the king. In the third Act, Hamlet is set up to confront Ophelia, and promptly displays an antic disposition. He speaks in circles and contradicts himself plainly telling her "I did love you once", and then in his next dialogue "I loved you not". However, in different company, like that of Horatio, Bernardo, Francisco, The Players, and the Grave diggers, he is perfectly sensible and mindful. Even though his performance is a convincing one, Polonius notes that "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't", hinting that he is catching on to Hamlet's act. ...read more.


This temporary lapse in morality and seemingly genuine distress in Hamlet can only be attributed to a genuine downfall into madness. Though on this occasion it seems almost instantaneous, Hamlets madness fervently throughout the text fluctuates in and out of the borders of sanity. From this it is obvious that Hamlet's madness is at times feigned and also at times genuine. Therefore we see in the conclusion of the play that Hamlet's madness, being both genuine and contrived, allows him to discover the truth behind his father's murder and more or less cover any suspicion by attributing it to his madness. Through this Hamlet is able to purge himself of the traumatic pressure of the impiety of his desired actions by finding a more divine purpose for them. Hamlet's mind can not be defined by anything as black and white as madness but rather it fluctuates incessantly until the peace found in the pious slaying of Claudius. ?? ?? ?? ?? Andrew Dennis 12B ...read more.

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

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