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Is Hamlet Mad?
Hamlet states throughout the play that his madness is a ruse.
assures Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is not actually mad, claiming "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw."
Hamlet openly admits he is putting 'an antic disposition on' to fool those around him. (Act 1, Scene i)
Hamlet is based on older
. In these older versions of the story, Hamlet's madness is explicitly a ruse designed to protect him from his uncle.
In the latter portent of the play, Hamlet assures his mother that "I essentially am not in madness / but mad in craft," making it certain that he is faking any madness. (Act 3, Scene iv)
Hamlet is an unreliable source with regards to his own sanity. If he is mad, then he may not himself be fully aware of it.