How Hamlet's "Antic Disposition" Shows That He Is A Victim Of His Own Mind Highschool/ English 12 Essay

807 words - 4 pages

As Betty Bealey states, "Hamlet is the only one of Shakespeare's characters who could have written the plays of his creator". His mind makes him one of Shakespeare's most intriguing characters, one who has continued to be the subject of literary debate four hundred years after his introduction. As Shakespeare shows, ironically, Hamlet's curious, thought-rich mind, renders him incapable of accomplishing even the simplest of tasks. Hamlet's "antic disposition" shows that he is a victim of his own mind, as he overcomplicates his revenge.
To begin, Hamlet's "antic disposition", rather than serving its intended purpose, seems to hurt his plans for revenge. Hamlet feigns madness to help him confirm the ghost's accusations and to avoid any suspicion while he attempts to avenge his father's murder. His encounter with the ghost seems to plunge him into a pit of confusion and anger. Though his heart wants to believe his father's "honest ghost" (1:5, line 151), his mind cannot ignore the idea that the "spirit that [he has] seen may be the devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape" (2:2, lines 610-612). Yet throughout the play, Hamlet seems to forget his true purpose. Though he successfully feigns madness by having a senseless conversation with Polonius and by entering Ophelia's closet with "no hat upon his head, [and with] his stockings fouled" (2:1, line 87), over the course of the play, Hamlet's madness does not seem to further his true purpose-rather, it does the opposite. For instance, Hamlet's conversation with Ophelia in Act 3, Scene 1, where he repeatedly tells her to "go thy ways to a nunnery" (3:1, line 141) only serves to convince Claudius that "there's something in his soul, over which his melancholy sits on brood" (3:1, line 175-176), one which could potentially "be some danger" (3:1, line 179) to him. Clearly, Hamlet's "act" of madness backfires, as he only frightens Claudius of his potential danger. With the use of Laertes, a foil to Hamlet, Shakespeare highlights Hamlet's failure to exact revenge. Laertes' burning desire for revenge is evident in his willingness "to cut [Hamlet's] throat in the church" (4:7, line 139), a polar opposite reaction to Hamlet. Yet again, Hamlet is shown to be a creature of contemplation rather than action. His mind-with its desire for perfection-seems to always trump his heart's longing for revenge. However, as Hamlet's intelligence is built...

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