Hamlet Essay: Deception

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Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Bomb Makers who gets Blown Sky High by their own Weapons

Lies and deception are some of the many actions that have disastrous consequences. For the most part, they destroy trust and leave the people closest to us feeling vulnerable. In Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's many plays, the theme of lies and deception is very significant. This play shows that every character that lies and practices the act of deception is ultimately punished for doing so by their treacherous deaths. Hamlet has lied and practiced deception several times which has prolonged his primary goal and also causes his death. Additionally, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s unskilled acts of dishonesty and disloyalty towards Hamlet have all backfired; as a result, this is the cause of their ironic deaths. Furthermore, Polonius’ selfish act of using others to his own advantage has all polished the table for his treacherous death. In this play, characters who manipulate the act of lie and deception eventually end up facing their own death. Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark and the protagonist of the play, performs many deceptive acts that all leads up to his death. After he has conferred with the ghost who claims to be his father’s spirit, old King Hamlet, he is shocked when he finds out the truth about his tragic death. In response, he pretends to be insane. He feigns his insanity to distract his mother, Gertrude, his uncle and step father, King Claudius and their attendants from his true intentions of gathering information to eventually expose Claudius for the murder of his father. It is evident that he is pretending to be crazy because he mentions it several times to his friends. He explains to them in Act 1, Scene 5 that he will “put an antic disposition on” (191). The word ‘antic’ means ‘clown’ or an actor who plays a comic role and requires absurdly ridiculous behavior. In other words, he will pretend to be a madman in order to achieve his goal. Additionally, for the purpose of love, Hamlet lies to Ophelia about his love for her during one of their conversations in Act 3, Scene 1. Hamlet: I did love you once.

Ophelia: Indeed my lord, you made me believe so.
Hamlet: You should not have believ’d me, for virtue cannot so
Inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I lov’d you not. Ophelia: I was the more deceiv’d (123-129).
In this heartbreaking scene, we cannot truly say how much of Hamlet’s words are true and how much of an act he has put on. This is because he seems to know that Ophelia will report his behavior to her father, Polonius, who will then disclose the report to King Claudius. However, we can see through his corruptive and deceptive act because he denies that he has ever loved Ophelia right after claiming that he has loved her once. One could then argue that Hamlet is purposely pretending to be an insane lover. Furthermore, in Act 3 Scene 2, Hamlet organizes and directs a delusive play called “The Mousetrap” before the royal audience. The play itself is an elaborated deception because Hamlet tries to determine Claudius’ guilt through it. The play depicts the murder of Duke Gonzago in Vienna by the antagonist Lucianus, thus mirroring Claudius’ assassination of old King Hamlet. Like Claudius, Lucianus, the player pours poison in Gonzago’s ears and soon after marries his wife, Baptista. Hamlet is convinced of his uncle’s guilt when Claudius gets agitated and rises from his seat. Shortly after, he orders his attendants to “[Bring him] some light” (3.2.261). This play has prolonged Hamlet’s goal of avenging his father’s death. If Hamlet has believed the ghost during their first encounter and has avenged his father’s death earlier, Hamlet could have had a prosperous life ahead of him. However, unfortunately, he chooses to slowly analyze the truth before taking any reckless actions; therefore, this causes him to lose his life at the end of the play. In relation to Carl Jung’s Archetypal Theory, Hamlet is not...
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