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Betrayal in Hamlet

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In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Shakespeare uses the consequences and deaths thrust upon his characters to convey that a betrayal of one’s trust can lead to negative consequences. By having his characters suffer through many tragedies, such as insanity or losing someone, Shakespeare reinforces his point with his main subjects. Claudius was most prominent example of this sad truth. Everything terrible that happened throughout the story was caused, whether directly or indirectly, by his cruel deed. When Claudius murdered his own brother in despicable act of deception he sealed the fate of everyone he came in contact with. The murder of Hamlet’s father causing him to go mental and swear revenge. Him acting crazy caused him to not only break Ophelia’s heart but also murder her father (when he mistook Polonius for Claudius). The murder of Polonius along with his insanity also caused Hamlet to be sent away to England. Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were going to betray Hamlet he had them killed instead, something that never would have happened had Hamlet not been sent off. Ophelia then kills herself because of her new mental issues which causes Laertes and Hamlet to fight over her love. Laertes ends up dead after conspiring with the king to have a poisoned/sharpened blade during the duel. Gertrude is then murdered because of a poison drink Claudius prepared. Finally Claudius circle of misdeeds returns to him and causes his own passing. Every death and consequence that happened could have been avoided had Claudius not killed his brother in the ultimate act of disloyalty.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were meant to be Hamlet’s friends. They were originally supposed to check on him and see how he was doing. However they betrayed him fairly quickly when asked to. When they deceived Hamlet about why they were really travelling with him he found out. Their letters to kill him resulted in their deaths instead. Another negative consequence written to warn about the dangers of abusing someone else’s trust. Gertrude is one character whos death seems mostly pure, a side effect of other people’s lies and deceit. Let’s have a closer look at her though. Not only did she marry her husband’s brother mere months after his death, but it was also speculated that she had an affair in progress with Claudius while her husband lived. Her adulterous behavior is what brought on the insanity of her only child and her own demise. “I am killed by my own treachery.” Words from Laertes just before he took his last breath. Out of anguish when Ophelia was taken from him Laertes challenges Hamlet to a rigged duel. The blame he put on Hamlet for the loss of a beloved sister, and all Laertes had left in the world, drug him down to the level of deception Claudius was on. Going back on the rules of a fair duel; Laertes cheated. His betrayal lead to the most negative consequence this story has to offer someone with no one but himself left, his own death. Shakespeare weaves an intricate web of lies and deceit to warn readers against the against the dangers of betraying someone’s faith in you. From the smallest deceptions to the largest, dire consequences were brought on all those who went behind another person’s back for their own selfish desires. From their own death’s to the much more painful death of a loved one everyone received negative consequences when they committed an act of betrayal.

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