I need help analyzing act 1, scene v in Hamlet

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In this scene, Hamlet tells Horatio and Marcellus that he is going to act mad (approximately ll.920-925) and that will help cover up his actions as he tries to make sense of what his father's ghost has told him and as he tries to carry out the promise he made to his father's ghost to kill Claudius. This introduces one of the major questions of the play: is Hamlet really mad or does he just pretend to be mad? It is arguable that the events that just unfolded have driven him mad, but it is also arguable that Hamlet is good at putting on his "antic disposition" when it is helpful to him.
renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ghost of Hamlet's father wants Hamlet to avenge his murder by going after Claudius-but is told he cannot seek revenge on Gertrude. The ghost also begs Horatio and Marcellus to "swear" not to divulge what has taken place. This causes several problems for Hamlet.

First, Hamlet must only direct his anger and vengeance on one half of the pair responsible for killing his father. He must not show his mother his anger. Second, when his behavior starts to raise eyebrows, Horatio and Marcellus will be unable to explain why Hamlet is acting the way he is.

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