Hamlet: Unearthing Reality Critical Essay

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Kallie Laycock

Unearthing Reality

There is a difference between appearance and reality. How something appears isn’t always what it actually is, and sometimes you can alter the appearance of something so much that is almost impossible to find the reality buried within. In the play ‘Hamlet’, by Shakespeare, the King of Denmark has died, leaving his cousin to rule the land. His ghost, however, appears while the guards are on watch, and he tells Hamlet his cousin Claudius in fact killed him, and that he should get revenge. In the following scenes Hamlet changes his appearance drastically, in order to hide what he knows, and try to find out if what the ghost told him was true. Act 3, scene two explores the idea of appearance versus reality with elements including irony, language used, and the plot. In the scene, Hamlet sets many ironies in place to see if what the ghost told him was true about Claudius, and find out the reality of the situation. In this scene Hamlet instructs the performers to act out a play with a plot very similar to what he suspects Claudius of. The performers begin, saying, “He poisons him i' th' garden for ’s estate…you shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.” (3.2.248) The play within the play revolves around the killer of a man finding the love of his victim’s wife. It parallels very closely to what he thinks actually happened in the kingdom; an irony set up by Hamlet to see if it will garner a reaction from the king. It is also dramatic irony because Hamlet and the audience know the truth of what he did but Claudius does not know if they do. The play is also is ironic in the way the wife reacts. She cries, “Such love must needs be treason in my breast. In second husband let me be accursed! None wed the second but who killed the first.” (3.2.67) She is saying that she would rather die than remarry, and only someone who was the cause of the death would find another to love. This is ironic because the Queen of...
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