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The Role of Deception in Hamlet

The Role of Deception in Hamlet

In the play Hamlet, deception is a major factor in the cause of the deaths of all those who die in the play, including Hamlet himself. The following paragraphs will outline the deception involved in the deaths of various characters including: Polonius, Gertrude, Laertes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Old Hamlet; as well as the downfall of the antagonist and protagonist: Claudius and Hamlet themselves.

Dishonesty is a major factor in the deaths of many characters. “I’ll silence me even here. Pray you be round with him.” (III, iv, 4-5), is what Polonius says before hiding behind the arras in Gertrude’s bedroom, and eavesdropping on Hamlet’s conversation with his mother. Much to Polonius’ misfortune, he is stabbed by Hamlet, who really intended to kill Claudius, mistaking him for Polonius behind the tapestry. Also, before Gertrude dies, Claudius says, “It is the poisoned cup; it is too late.” (V, ii, 270). He is referring to the poisoned wine which he made for Hamlet, but Gertrude drank instead, and died as a result. As well, “The treacherous instrument is in thy hand, / Unbated and envenomed. The foul practice / Hath turned on me. Lo, here I lie, / Never to rise again.” (V, ii, 294-297), is what Laertes says to Hamlet before he dies. Laertes tells Hamlet about how his own plan to kill Hamlet has turned on him, how he was blinded by rage over the death of his father, and how Claudius was the one who put him up to it. Other cases in which deceit is the cause of death include the death of Ophelia, given the impression that she is no longer loved, by Hamlet, who is just pretending to be mad and really has feelings for her. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were killed due to their …

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Burnett, Mark Thornton. ” ‘For they are actions that a man might play’: Hamlet as Trickster”. Smith, Peter J., and Nigel Woods, eds. Hamlet.Buckingham: Open U P, 1996. (24-54).

Leverenz, David. “The Inner Hamlet: An Interpersonal View”. Schwartz, Murray M. and Coppelia Kahn, eds. Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays. Baltimore: John Hopkins U P, 1980.

Rosenberg, Marvin. “Deception in Hamlet”. Thompson, Marvin, and Ruth Thompson, eds. Shakespeare and the Sense of Identity. Newark: U of Delaware P, 1989.

Shakespeare, William. The New Cambridge Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Philip Edwards. Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1985.

Thatcher, David. Begging to Differ: Modes of Discrepancy in Shakespeare. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

Vickers, Brian. Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels. New Haven: Yale U P, 1993

The Importance of Self-image in Hamlet

The Importance of Self-image in Hamlet

Self-image plays a big role in how people act. Hamlet’s inability to know himself or to understand his own motives leads to the restless battles between right and wrong in his conscience, which is the reason for his unpredictable tragic actions, and behaviors. Hamlets’ confusion is clearly shown in his soliloquies. His confused mind can be broken into five categories. Hamlet suffers from his own moral standards, the desperate need to seek the truth, lack of confidence and trust in his own impulses, self-hatred, and melancholy. Each of these categories contribute to Hamlet’s troubled mind.

Hamlet based a lot of his actions on his religious moral standards. Although Hamlet had high morals, he still had many impulses that were against his moral standards that he wanted to carry out; such as the murder of his father and his thoughts on suicide. “His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God, how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!” (I, ii, 36-138) Hamlet is saying that if it wasn’t against his religion to commit suicide, he would do it. In his fourth soliloquy, Hamlet says, “Thus, conscience does make coward of us all.” (III, i, 91) Hamlet blames his inability to act out his impulses on these moral standards that have been ingrained into his conscience. He finds the restrictions in his world unbearable because it is confined within religious and social class barriers.

As a young man, Hamlet’s mind is full of many questions about the events that occur during his complicated life. This leads to the next two categories of his mind. His need to seek the truth and his lack of confidence in his own impulses. Hamlets’ confusion in what he wants to …

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…tude of the medieval men in his time. He thinks a lot, considers his motivations and finds evidence for his fathers’ deed before he executes his actions. This is why Hamlet couldn’t understand himself, his character differs from the typical man of his times and therefore his motives will be different too. Hamlet lost his confidence and therefore couldn’t decide on whether to act or not since he lost his understanding of himself. So therefore, a little corruption in Hamlet’s world, mixed with his characteristics that just weren’t right his time lead him to his tragic end; as a result of his actions and inactions. In conclusion, confidence in ourselves can lead us to do great and reasonable things. Losing that self-assurance will lead us to become indecisive and weak individuals. This corruption of character can ultimately lead to a tragic decline in our ideal world.

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