Messud, for her part, had a sharp response for her interviewer. "For heaven's sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections ? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest ? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you're reading to find friends, you're in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn't 'Is this a potential friend for me?' but 'Is this character alive?'"
Hamlet decides to "act" mad because it's going to get him what he wants--or so he thinks. We know he's an accomplished actor (his conversation with the Players reveals this), and we know everyone gives him plenty of license because they're not sure of his mental state. He continues his plan in the face of obstacles, but it does not, of course, really get him what he wants in the end. Ophelia is dead, Polonius is dead, Laertes is dead, his mother is dead, and he is dead. The fact that Claudius is also dead somehow doesn't satisfy in the way it should have. If there is a shift from feigned to true madness, I suspect it's when Hamlet realizes he is being sent to England to his execution or when he sees Ophelia's body being brought to her grave.
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