Appearance vs. Reality in Hamlet

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 473
  • Published : April 25, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
There is a general understanding that appearances can be deceiving. This is one of the most fundamental questions in philosophy, appearance vs. reality. When we meet people and get to know them throughout our lives, we soon discover that there is a genuine side to everyone behind the appearance they show. In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the characters Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Claudius use appearance vs. reality to manipulate and deceive, which ultimately leads to their downfall.

Polonius is a prime example of one who deceives, which ends in their downfall. In Act 2 Scene 2, Polonius has a discussion with Claudius, where they say "What do you think of me?" "As a man most faithful and honorable." "I would fain prove so." (2.2 120-123). Polonius is openly admitting to being a honorable man, when in reality he is not. By simply creating an appearance of a respectable person, he gains the trust of the King of Denmark. However, the reality is that Polonius is rather despicable. Polonius sends someone to spy on his own son. In Act 2 Scene 1, he says, "You shall do marvelous wisely, good Reynaldo,/Before you visit him, to make inquire/of his behaviour." (2.1. 3-5). This shows that Polonius is anything but honorable. A father would trust his own son, and definitely not send a spy to stalk him. The biggest deception that Polonius makes is when he spies on Hamlet and Gertrude's conversation. As he hides behind the arras, he ends up being slain by Hamlet's sword. Polonius' manipulation and deception ends with his death.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern also use deception, and end up in calamity. For one, they both agree to spy on their childhood friend, Hamlet. In Act 2 Scene 2, they say
Both your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.
But we both obey
And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,
To lay our service freely at your feet
To be...
tracking img