Hamlet - antic disposition

Essay by jasaminaHigh School, 11th gradeA, June 2004

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In Act 1, Scene 5, Hamlet undertakes, "to put an antic disposition on". To what extent do you believe that Hamlet retains his sanity in the play?

"I perchance hereafter shall think meet/ To put an antic disposition on" (I.v.172-3).

William Shakespeare's controversial play, Hamlet, causes a rise of debate as to whether the main character, Hamlet, retains his sanity throughout. Sanity can be defined as a healthy and stable state of mind and, though his mental state is disrupted, Hamlet is able to maintain rationality, wit and cunning throughout the course of the play. This is presented through his altered view of women and death and how he comes to terms with these disturbances to his state; his ability to realise that he is in a pretentious state; and that he continues to question and ponder his actions. Hamlet's complex character allows for many interpretations of his mental state and reveals his inner-battle for peace of mind and willingness to avenge his father's death.

Hamlet is a play based solely on the revenge of the main character on his uncle, the king. "Prince Hamlet is the son of the recently dead Hamlet, King of Denmark" (Reading Hamlet), and Queen Gertrude, who, soon after her husband's death, married his brother, Claudius, who became king. The Ghost of Hamlet's father appears to him, revealing that Claudius had killed him to become king and take Gertrude to be his own. He asks that Hamlet avenge his death or else he be trapped in purgatory for eternity. Hamlet vows to do so and takes to put on an "antic disposition" (I.v.173). Through his feigned madness, Hamlet causes the deaths of Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Ophelia. Hamlet is a tragic play, depicting the inner-struggle of Hamlet to uphold his father's honour, but, at...