The Sane Hamlet
Is Hamlet mad or a sane man under difficult circumstances? Hamlet assumes a bizarre temperament at times to uncover the truth of his father's death. It seems that Hamlet's antic disposition in his thoughts and actions is a logical response to the situation in which he finds himself.
In the first act, Hamlet appears to be very open with his actions and thoughts. When questioned by Gertrude about his melancholy appearance, Hamlet responds, "Seems, madam? Nay it is know not seems" (I, ii, 76). This is to say, "I am what I appear to be." Later he makes a clear statement about his thoughts when he commits himself to revenge. Hamlet says,
"I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, That youth and observation copied there, And thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain" (I, iv, 99-103). With this statement, the play makes a transition; Hamlet gives up the role of a student and mourning son, and commits himself to nothing else but the revenge of his father's death. This shows a man who feels justified in his action, and the audience sympathizes with him.
In the Chapel Scene, when Claudius is praying alone for his guilt, Hamlet accidentally sees him. Hamlet realizes that this is the perfect opportunity for his revenge. Seeing the opportunity, Hamlet states; "Now might I do it pat, now a' is a-praying; And now I'll do it, and so he goes to heaven, And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd; A villain kills my father, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revenge" (III, iii, 73-79). Here one notices Hamlet’s ability to rationalize and reason showing now signs of madness.
When Hamlet appears again in Act Two, it seems that he has lost his certainty and shows a different attitude. He has yet to fulfill the task assigned to him by the ghost, his father. The Prince spends much...