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Hamlet's Insanity and Grief

            While reading Hamlet by William Shakespeare, one may ask him or herself the question "Is Hamlet truly insane and grief stricken?" Or is it merely a ruse or mask put on by Hamlet to deceive. "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." (Hamlet, line 345 Act II*Scene II), by saying this Hamlet tries to convince others that he is grief stricken to the point of insanity. If one were to look deeper and analyze the statement one would discover that Hamlet is quite sane and that his words and behavior are in an attempt to deceive. With his statement Hamlet is revealing that he is precisely planning when to be insane and grief stricken. By saying that he knows the difference between a hawk and a handsaw, Hamlet implies that he knows his enemies from his friends, showing how sane he really is. In Hamlet's private moments, through his conversations with Horatio, and in his plans of action, it can be seen that his insanity is merely a facade. There is a reason for his deception, which will be discussed.
             With the first appearance of the foreboding ghost of Hamlet's dead father, he learns the truth of his father's death at the hands of treacherous uncle, the new king of Denmark, Claudius. He informs his good friend Horatio that he will use his grief stricken insanity to his advantage. By using his insanity to his advantage it gives him an opportunity and method to gathering information and proof from his enemies so he can devise a way to .
             achieve his revenge on Claudius. Even though Hamlet vowed to avenge his father's death, he has doubts about the ghost, "The spirit that I have seen, May be the devil: and the devil hath power T" assume a pleasing shape."(Hamlet, line150-152 Act II*Scene II). By acting insane Hamlet also, buys himself time to determine whether the ghost's story is true or not. To convince everyone that he is insane, Hamlet makes an effort to babble and wander throughout the castle as if he were truly insane.

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