“To put an antic disposition on”…-Hamlet Suggests feigned madness. He does this in order to present himself as a non-threat to Claudius, so he can bring himself closer towards revealing whether or not he actually killed his father. Traditionally, such an act was used in order to avoid execution (madmen were not considered a threat), should Claudius become suspicious of Hamlet’s knowledge – ironically, his madness causes the opposite effect, with Claudius wanting to murder him. It is also worth questioning whether or not Hamlet, at times, is actually feigning madness, or if he has simply breached the boundaries of sanity.
“As if he had been loosed out of hell”…-Ophelia Ironically, Ophelia has made a connection (unknowingly) between the Ghost and Hamlet, thus revealing the reason behind Hamlet’s apparent ‘madness’. Reminds the audience of Hamlet’s ‘fake’ madness and his madness towards Ophelia, which has a profound impact on her (and can be seen as a reason for HER madness).
“That I essentially am not in madness/ But mad in craft”…-Hamlet Here, Hamlet admits to his mother , Gertrude, that his madness is not genuine, but rather ‘in craft’, in cunning or pretence. Further suggests his sanity.
“I am but mad north-north-west”…-Hamlet Speaking to Guildenstern, he suggests that his madness is only active when it is necessary; however, suggests that he is nearing actual madness. In other words, “I am only one point of the compass away from true sanity”.
“fishmonger”…-Hamlet For modern audiences, the incongruity of Hamlet’s calling Polonius a ‘fishmonger’ is indicative of his having successfully feigned an ‘antic disposition’ and, as such, they find it a humorous comment. However, for contemporary audiences, there was more to the jibe than incongruity.The fishmonger epithet works on a number of levels; a fishmonger was a considered to be a womaniser; a fishmonger was thought to be not only sexually lascivious, but to cause others to be the same.