In Hamlet, if Hamlet is using madness only to try to protect himself from suspicion, why does he mock the king and queen so obviously?

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In Hamlet, Hamlet is using madness to protect himself from suspicion, but he repeatedly insults Claudius and Gertrude. This could be because he cannot help himself. It could also be that he means for his insults to be evidence of his madness. Or it could be argued that Shakespeare intended his insults to be evidence that Hamlet might actually be mad.

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Hamlet insults Claudius in particular with increasing frequency throughout the play. The reasons he does this are not clear. It is not necessarily the case that his insults are inconsistent with his strategy of feigning madness to avoid suspicion. Given the nature of kingship, it could even be argued that his insults are calculated to convince the king and queen that he is mad. One does not, after all, insult a monarch without fear of retribution, and to do so brazenly may be taken as a sign that Hamlet is mad. But it may be that Hamlet just cannot help himself. He is so consumed with rage at his stepfather and his mother that he simply struggles not to insult them.

He first insults Claudius even before he encounters his father's ghost, referring to the new king as "more than kin, and less than kind." The fact that his insults become more brazen throughout the course of the play, as he edges closer to his revenge, would suggest that this is probably the correct interpretation. He does not really openly insult Gertrude until he reveals his plan to her. Hamlet most egregiously insults the king after killing Polonius, when he reminds his stepfather that a monarch may progress through "the guts of a beggar."

A third possibility is that Shakespeare intended Hamlet's insults to give the impression that he really was mad, not just acting. This is one of the most enduring questions of the play, and it could be argued that Shakespeare wanted to further blur the line between Hamlet's self-professedly feigned madness and the real thing.

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