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Hamlet: Entrapment between Characters

By raieowns Apr 04, 2010 792 Words
The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare exemplifies entrapment between characters. Polonius manipulates Ophelia into spying on Hamlet, Hamlet has the players add a scene of murder to a play in front of Claudius, and finally Claudius and Laertes devise a scheme to murder Hamlet during a fencing match. Each trap set between characters epitomizes themes occurring throughout the play. Shakespeare shows irony in his work, however, because none of the characters' plans end successfully.

Closer to the beginning of the play, Hamlet is faking being insane. Everyone has been wondering what's wrong with Hamlet and Polonius thinks he's got it. Right before his act began, Polonius told his daughter and Hamlet's lover, Ophelia, to start rejecting Hamlet's romance. “...This is for all: I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, have you so slander any moment leisure, as to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet” (Hamlet, Act I Scene IV). Polonius sees Hamlet's ensuing madness as love sickness and brings the idea up to Claudius. So to prove the theory, Polonius has Ophelia go and speak to Hamlet while Polonius and Claudius hide nearby as to hear the exchange. The conversation between Ophelia and Hamlet ends horribly with proof that Ophelia's rejection did not cause his madness. The theme represented through this trap is lying, but mainly deceit (it IS a trap). Also, madness could be considered a theme for Hamlet is still acting crazy and screamed at Ophelia for close to no legitimate reason.

Towards the middle of the play, Hamlet learns that Claudius murdered his father, King Hamlet. As a way to clarify if Claudius did, in fact, murder his father, Hamlet asks actors in a play being performed for the royalty to edit a scene to his specifications. “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue...” (Hamlet, Act III Scene II). Hamlet ends up giving the actors a script that directly reenacts King Hamlet's murder by Claudius. It's obvious by Claudius' reaction of shock and anger that he is a guilty figure. The theme expressed in Hamlet's trap is deceit. Claudius was deceiving the entire state of Denmark as well as Hamlet's deceit towards Claudius, making him see what he's done and that Hamlet does know the truth. The theme of deceit is repeated many times in the play.

The biggest trap between characters in the play happens in the final act. Claudius and Laertes are planning to kill Hamlet and have it seem to be an accident. Laertes wants to kill Hamlet because he killed his father, Polonius, which inadvertently drove his sister, Ophelia, crazy; she died soon after. Claudius just wants to rid of his problem, which is Hamlet's knowledge of his dastardly deed. “...or with a little shuffling, you may choose a sword unbated, and in a pass of practice requite him for your father” (Hamlet, Act IV Scene VII). The plan is to have Laertes and Hamlet fence each other for sport. The trick lies in the swords the two men choose. Laertes will choose a pointed sword coated in poison whilst Hamlet has a normal, dull fencing sword. Claudius will try to ensure Hamlet's death by poisoning his drink on the sidelines. This entrapment causes the death of four main characters. Gertrude is poisoned by the win Claudius set out for Hamlet. Laertes slices Hamlet who swipes the poisoned sword and stabs Laertes. Once Laertes confesses Claudius was behind the whole scheme, Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned rapier and forces the poisoned wine down his throat. By this point, Gertrude, Laertes, and Claudius are all deceased from one backfired plan. Hamlet passes soon after declaring to Horatio that his story must be told. Revenge is a clear theme as well as deceit, which is yet again portrayed in the final trap between characters.

The entire play of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a huge cluster of lies and bad luck. Not a single entrapment really succeeds besides Claudius' murdering of King Hamlet. In the end, though, it was that deed that forced all these other misfortunes into the characters' lives. Deceit, lying, mortality, and revenge are the themes mainly expressed in the trickery displayed in this literature. It just goes to show that getting equal isn't always the best choice for the matter at hand. (: Sources Cited Page

http://www.enotes.com/hamlet/act-iii-scene-1-summary-analysis

http://www.enotes.com/hamlet/act-iii-scene-2-summary-analysis

http://www.enotes.com/hamlet/act-v-scene-2-summary-analysis

http://www.enotes.com/hamlet/q-and-a/what-three-entrapments-play-129939

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

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