It's important to note that some literary analysts don't think Hamlet's madness is an act but that he is literally driven crazy by his life which is spinning out of control on all fronts. Still, others do believe it's an act.
Hamlet is visited early in the play by his father's ghost, who asks Hamlet to avenge his murder by killing his brother and Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. Hamlet really doesn't know whether to believe the ghost for a while, and he stalls for time. In the meantime, Ophelia, whom he seems to have been genuinely close to prior to the play's opening, reports all Hamlet's "strange" actions to her father and Claudius. Additionally, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, former friends of Hamlet, are employed by Claudius and Polonius to watch over Hamlet and report back to them. His mother has hastily married this same murderous uncle and goes so far as to tell Hamlet that he has "insulted [his] father" (III.iv.10).
Hamlet doesn't know whom he can trust besides Horatio . His world is full of...
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