To Unmask the Truth: Consciousness of Hamlet

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“All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into an outline it is like being ambushed...”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Act I

Hamlet’s attempt to get his uncle to claim his father’s murder is supposedly done for truth and redemption. However, Hamlet’s feigned “madness” (Hamlet, Act III, Scene III) makes it possible to believe that he may have alternative motives. For Hamlet, these motives may be out of resent which means it is possible he may have wanted his mother’s “husband’s brother” (Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV) to be hurt for selfish reasons- anger and hate for marrying his mother soon after his brother’s death. This allowed him to make finding the truth his tool rather than making it necessary for restoration of himself emotionally and his father’s image. Stoppard, a playwright, needed a tragedy made up of characters that supposedly search for justice in order to illuminate an understanding of truth in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Specifically, Stoppard consciously uses Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, in order to unmask truth as an illusion.

Taking place in a vague setting in “a place without any visible character” (Rosencrantz, Act I), the play produces a slightly unrealistic setting and tone. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find themselves is a place where natural laws of time are suspended and where just about anything can happen. One way they show this is by defying the laws of probability. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern flip coins, only to find that more than a hundred heads turn up repeatedly. The irony applied there is that probability of “coins” (Rosencrantz, Act I) landing on a specific side is generally 50-50, something less than absolute as the scene makes the coins appear. However, by having that many heads turn up, it makes the illusion of absolute truth appear tangible. Even though “the run of heads is impossible” (Rosencrantz, Act I),...
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