Hamlet Antic Disposition Essay

Hamlet Antic Disposition Essay-77
Until the climax, much of the King’s attention is focused on attempts to fathom the meaning of the ‘antic disposition’.Polonius proposed Ophelia as a reason, but after the ‘Nunnery Scene’, Claudius is satisfied that Hamlet’s condition does not originate with her.One of his acts (the killing of Polonius) during a spell of abnormal passion is destined to have fatal consequences for him.

Until the climax, much of the King’s attention is focused on attempts to fathom the meaning of the ‘antic disposition’.Polonius proposed Ophelia as a reason, but after the ‘Nunnery Scene’, Claudius is satisfied that Hamlet’s condition does not originate with her.One of his acts (the killing of Polonius) during a spell of abnormal passion is destined to have fatal consequences for him.

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There are various ways of looking at his assumption of the ‘antic disposition’.

One may regard it as a useful weapon in the coming struggle with Claudius and his associates; this, apparently, is why Hamlet assumes it in the first place.

It may also be explained as a legacy from the sources used by Shakespeare: in these sources (e.g.

Thomas Kyd) the central figure feigned madness in order to allay the suspicions of his enemies while he plotted and executed his revenge.

Jephtah was a Hebrew judge who rashly sacrificed his only daughter.

Polonius will, in his own words, ‘loose his daughter’ to Hamlet, and she, too, will be sacrificed, the victim of the machinations of guilty men.

Indeed, his pranks and clowning make Claudius extremely suspicious.

Even before such things become obvious, the King asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet in order, as he puts it, to, ‘glean whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus’ (11, ii, 17).

Indeed, he wonders whether what he has witnessed has been a display of madness at all: ‘Love / His affections do not that way tend / Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little / Was not like madness’ (111, i, 165).

Another odd feature of Hamlet’s assumption of his ‘antic disposition’ is that having decided to use it as a stratagem, he does not seem particularly concerned whether Claudius sees through it or not.

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