Shakespeare's "Hamlet": Looking at Integrity

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude Pages: 6 (2299 words) Published: September 21, 2007
"This above all, to thine own self be true." Hamlet shows that integrity is the most important personal quality to have in a world in which people are often not what they seem." Discuss.

William Shakespeares Hamlet, is set in a world much like an unweeded garden. It is a world full of treacheryand deceit, so much so that one may smile, and smile and still be a villain. However, amidst all this corruption, several characters of integrity, such as Hamlet, and his loyal comrade, Horatio, are still able to rise above the other characters in nature, and be true to their own selves. Thus, Shakespeare assigns them with honourable ends, unlike the other members of the court, who are condemned with shameful deaths. Yet is integrity the most important personal quality to possess, in order to survive in such a rotten society? Through each individual character, Hamlet shows us how the personal quality of integrity is essential to the shaping of each characters destinies. Shakespeare tends to give characters the end which they deserve. Even though Hamlet does commit some actions which are questionable, nevertheless, in the end, the play still inevitably sits by the idea that goodness and integrity will ultimately conquer evil, and justice will always be served.

In Hamlet, characters who are portrayed as truly lacking in integrity are punished with shameful death. One such character would be Polonius. Although it is he who tells others to thine own sel(ves) be true., he himself is superficial and devoid of much moral fibre. Hence, it is no wonder that in the end, he is rightfully condemned to a disgraceful death, where he is slain in the midst of his own treachery. Polonius is a character who is devious to all who are around him, including his own family. Although he consents to his son Laertes returning to Paris to study, he employs a spy to inquire of his behaviour, by putting on him what forgeries you please. If he is unable to have an honourable and trusting relationship with his own son, how would he form any other relationships with integrity? Thus, we can see that Polonius is a man who by indirections find(s) directions out, and has a shrewd and cunning and nature, which he seldom shows in public. Furthermore, his attitude towards Ophelia is also questionable. So as to provide the king with news that is fruits of that great feast, and gain his favour, he simply parades around Ophelias love letters from Hamlet, and has no consideration for her feelings. He even offers to loose Ophelia to Hamlet, as part of a scheme, using her as a political pawn for his own gain. It is thus no wonder that Hamlet considers Polonius a tedious old fool, and lacks respect for him, even in death. In fact, even Polonius himself is aware of his own villainy, knowing that with devotions visage/ and pious action we do sugar oer /the devil himself. Thus, when he is accidentally killed by Hamlet whilst eavesdropping from behind the arras, Polonius lack of integrity became his fatal flaw which must be punished, and thus in the play, justice is served.

Another character who clearly lacks honour and veracity, and is punished for this, would be the blood bawdy villain, Claudius. On the surface, he may seem a virtuous king, who dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw/whats near it with it; however, as the play develops, we learn that he is in fact a master manipulator and the murderer of his brother, the late King Hamlet. His betrayal of his brother clearly establishes himself as somebody who is treacherous and lacking in integrity, as he had commits regicide simply for My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen. By doing so, he has deceived not only Hamlet and Gertrude, but also Danish court and the state of Denmark. Thus, it is no wonder that under his rule, the court is seen as an ulcerous place, and Denmark is a prison Moreover, although Claudius knows that his offence is rank,he is unwilling to give up the effects of his murder, instead, he...
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