Deception in Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Deception Pages: 4 (1546 words) Published: April 11, 2013

One must always be weary of the truth because it is quite often manipulated to serve the needs of any person who requires that the truth be on their side. Quite often, the only way to discern the truth from the fiction is by way of a deceptive act, because an act of deception always exposes both its self and the truth to be two quite different things. Nowhere is this more true than in William Shakespeare's, Hamlet. One of the major themes in the play is in fact, deception. This central theme is expressed throughout the play in three major forms: the fear of being deceived, the act of deception, and the ultimate result of the deceptive act. The first facet of the deceiving under-tone in Hamlet is the fear of being deceived. On the third night, after two consecutive appearances of the ghost, Horatio joins Francisco, Bernardo, and Marcellus on the evening watch. Horatio scoffs at their stories of the ghost's appearance, "Tush, tush, 'twill not appear" (1.1.35). Horatio is a scholar and a sensible man who needs to see things with his own eyes before he will accept them. Therefore, once the ghost appears to him, he quickly changes his viewpoint. He informs Hamlet of the ghost's likeness to his dead father and warns him of where the ghost originates: "Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell" (1.4.44). Horatio fears that the ghost might be a deception, a devil sent in a pleasing shape to coax Hamlet into wicked action. Horatio's fear is justified, since during the Elizabethan era it was believed that ghosts were either Heavenly or Satanic, and a man of knowledge like Horatio should take such into consideration. Horatio is not the only character who fears deception. Claudius fears that Hamlet's antic behavior might be some kind of deception. To learn the truth of Hamlet's actions, Claudius entreats upon Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (two of Hamlet's oldest friends) to investigate the...
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