"I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw" (II.ii.376-7). This is a classic example of the "wild and whirling words" (I.v.134) with which Hamlet hopes to persuade people to believe that he is mad. These words, however, prove that beneath his "antic disposition," Hamlet is very sane indeed. Beneath his strange choice of imagery involving points of the compass, the weather, and hunting
showed first 75 words of 1709 total
showed last 75 words of 1709 total
and he realizes he is being spied on. He reacts the way any hurt young rejected lover would. In the end, it is surprising that he is able to keep up the charade of feigning madness for so long, and part of his tragedy is that it doesn't help him anyway; in the end, he avenges his father by killing Claudius not through an act of madness, but as a result of Claudius's own treachery.