The Theme of Appearance vs. Reality encircles William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in the play everything appears to be truthful and accurate but in reality this is not the case. Many of the characters in Hamlet hide behind a façade there’s Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern just to name a few. But the two most important characters, Hamlet and King Claudius have the put on the biggest masks in the play.
Hamlet uses the mask of madness in his appearance by using Ophelia’s rejected love and scorn to give the appearance of madness to anyone that looks at him. This is shown when Hamlet goes to Ophelia with dirty clothes, pale and looking mad: My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,
No hat upon his head, his stockings foul’d,
Ungarter’d, and down-gyved to his ancle:
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
And with a look so piteous in purport,
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors, he comes before me.
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, sc I, lines 78 – 85)
But in reality Hamlet is just using Ophelia’s rejected love as a way to show people that he is insane to carry out his plan of avenging his murdered father Old King Hamlet. This is shown when the ghost (Old King Hamlet) tells Hamlet of his murderer and tells Hamlet to avenge his death. Hamlet tells the onlooker Horatio to swear that even though he may begin looking crazy that he must never tell anyone of what had happened that day: And therefor as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come,
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake,
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, sc V, lines 166-175)
Hamlets reality is to...