Hamlet's Love for Ophelia: "An Antic Disposition" or Insanity?

William Shakespeare

Hamlet's Love for Ophelia: "An Antic Disposition" or Insanity?

It behooves us to delve a bit deeper into the screaming match between Hamlet and Ophelia near the end of Act III, Scene 1 because the word "love" is used in such explosive terms.  Hamlet can be seen to use love as an actual weapon here against Ophelia (whether or not we believe Hamlet truly did show love toward Ophelia in the past, or whether it was her own delusion).  Ophelia has admitted in the past that Hamlet did give her "many tenders of affection" and now admits that she thought Hamlet was in love with her because she says, "Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so."  Due to the naivete of Ophelia (that has already been proved), the reader cannot help but believe her.  Now, knowing this, remember that Hamlet has vowed to "put an antic disposition on." How could Hamlet be doing this in these lines?  How does Hamlet look crazy here?  In line 115, Hamlet proclaims, "I did love you once," but in line 119, Hamlet proclaims, "I loved you not."  Now, is Hamlet doing a good job at acting crazy by proclaiming one thing and then proclaiming the polar opposite, or has Hamlet actually gone insane? It is up to the audience (and in some cases the director) to decide.  Keep this in mind, though: Hamlet's reasoning for acting crazy was to figure out whether Claudius actually killed Hamlet's father and, if so, to avenge his death.  One has to wonder what Ophelia has to do with this.  Yes, Hamlet knows that Ophelia has agreed to follow her father's advice and not pursue a relationship with Hamlet anymore.  Hamlet knows that Ophelia is, by obeying her father, kind of "spying" on him (and in the worst case scenario, betraying him).  Does messing with this young girl's emotions bring Hamlet any closer to killing Claudius and avenging dad's death?  If not, would this screaming match prove Hamlet to be insane?  Let's examine one more admission by Hamlet before deciding.  Later in the screaming match, Hamlet says the following:

God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. . . Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad.

Is Hamlet simply calling Ophelia "two-faced"?  In other words, is she acting one way to her father and another to Hamlet himself?  Did this realization make Hamlet angry, or is Hamlet admitting his own insanity that, because of Ophelia's behavior, Hamlet has gone "mad"?  There is no right or wrong answer here.  Either point can be proven.  Scholars continue to disagree.  One thing is for sure, however: this part of the text lends itself very well to the theme of appearance vs. reality.