Is Hamlet mad or not

The play “Hamlet” by Shakespeare is about vengeance Hamlet has to do for the killing of his father. Thus, in the play, the primary issue or controversy that comes out when reading the play is whether Hamlet insanity case is pretense or not. After going through the play, it is indicated that Hamlet decided to pretend to be insane as part of his plan to murder the one who killed his father. Therefore, because of his unusual actions, Hamlet’s pretext of being insane was so real that even his mother, Gertrude, start to think he is real. Nonetheless, his actions and thoughts show that he is pretending. He displays his knowledge of what is happening around him and also the nature of his speech. Therefore, I believe Hamlet was not insane but only pretends to fulfill his revenge mission. 

As the play continues, one may know that Hamlet is insane, but as shown in the play, he understands how to separate between what is happening and what is not happening, indicates that he still have the power over his actions. Moreover, he can control what is happening around him. It is imperative to note that Hamlet’s madness is truly an action when he says, “I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw” (page 368-369). This indicates that Hamlet acted as being a crazy person, perhaps for his objectives to be attained. This is evident when he said that he understands the difference between a hawk and handsaw, which is a proof that he can distinguish and understand the variations between two issues, he is only acting. Moreover, when he uses the wing and whirling words, it served as evidence that Hamlet is ok and he is just putting up things for people to believe that he is crazy. Moreover, Hamlet can distinguish what is happening around which shows that he hasn’t lost his mind.

Additionally, based on his talks and actions to Horatio and others, he displays that he is not insane by the feedback and his speech. Immediately after discovering his father’s death, Hamlet talked with Horatio where he says, “But come…here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd some I bear myself…As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic dispositions on….” (Page 168-170). Therefore, in this conversation, it is clear that he is saying that he will pretend to be mad to go on with his plan of getting back at Claudius. Hamlet applies his form of speech to play with people to confuse them and allow him to go on with his plans.


 In reading the play “Hamlet” by Shakespeare, makes a person to wonder if the main character Hamlet is mad or not. Therefore, in the first instance, I did believe that Hamlet wasn’t acting because of his behaviors but after a close examination of events in the play, I learned that Hamlet was pretending to be mad to plan his revenge. Thus, it is displayed through Hamlet’s conscious awareness of his thoughts, speech, actions, and environment. It is evident that indeed Hamlet was not insane but was pretending to be to fulfill his ambition of revenge. The play is based on the theme of revenge where the protagonist tends to achieve by pretending to be mad.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, W., Holderness, G., & Loughrey, B. (2014). Hamlet-The First Quarto (Sos). Routledge.