Why Does Hamlet Act Crazy
Why did Hamlet pretend to be crazy?
Hamlet's main reason for feigning insanity is that he wants to investigate the suspicious nature of his father's death without Claudius suspecting that he knows the truth.
Hamlet's biggest reason for pretending to be crazy is that he wants to be able to investigate the accusations made by his father's ghost against his uncle and new stepfather, Claudius, without raising any suspicion that he knows the truth about his father's death. It isn't particularly difficult for him to pretend insanity because he is already so grief-stricken by his father's death and disgusted by his mother's very hasty remarriage to a man who is, according to the Bible, her brother (since she was married to his brother). Further, once Hamlet learns that Claudius actually murdered his father, he adds anger to his mix of emotions. Then, to add insult to injury, he is abandoned by the woman he loves, Ophelia, when her father tells her she must break things off with Hamlet in order to preserve her virtue; thus, on top of Hamlet's grief, disgust, and anger, he is heartbroken. It is not difficult, then, for him to feign insanity, because he truly is experiencing so many painful emotions.
Hamlet pretended to be crazy for several closely related reasons. He pretended to be crazy to have freedom to examine Claudius's guilt, to find a way to do what the Ghost asked, to make people think he was no threat, to distract attention from his investigation into his father's death, and so he could say outlandish things without striking a nerve.
How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
... by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As 'Well, well, we know,' ...
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me: this not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear. (I.v)
Hamlet pretends to be mad so he can uncover the truth about his father's death and what happened. However, in the process, he himself turns mad as his inward struggle of himself and trying to fit into societal norms drives him insane. His mother questions if he is sane when he is talking to the ghost in her room with her. He is ultimately the cause of his own downfall.