Honesty And Deception In Hamlet

Good Essays
Hanna Roan
Mrs. Kelly
AP Literature Period 2
2 December 2014
Hamlet Essay In the tragic play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, honesty and deception is a prevalent theme throughout. The consequences of deception are revealed in many instances throughout the play including characters such as Claudius, Polonius, and Hamlet himself. Claudius is one of the most deceptive characters throughout the entire play. His most important example of deception would be when he lied to everyone about the death of King Hamlet. Despite murdering King Hamlet and taking his throne, Claudius still feels guilt over the deception he has committed and laments over his sins in private. “The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plastering art, is not more ugly to the thing
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He first mentions his hate for deception when he mentions that no one actually cares about him and that Gertrude, Claudius, Rosencratz, and Guildenstern are all feigning their care for him. He accuses Rosencratz and Guildenstern of siding with Claudius instead of him despite their past friendship. Later on, he even changes the death sentence letter to their names which resulted in their execution. This cruel act later affects Horatio since he is shocked that Hamlet would do such a thing. “Subscrib’d it, gave’t the impression, plac’d it safely, the changeling never known. Now, the next day, was our sea-flight; and what to this was sequent, Thou know’st already.” (Scene 5, Act 2, Lines 50-53) The ghost of King Hamlet is an ambiguous, but important character. It was never specified whether or not the ghost was actually King Hamlet or just a demon. At the same time, the ghost himself also mentions that he hates deception and laments about Gertrude’s remarriage with Claudius. He calls Gertrude an “adulterate” which may indicate the possibility that she was cheating on him during their marriage. This remains unclear however, since it may also show his anger of her betrayal of marriage to the man who had killed him. Hamlet also deceives everyone by pretending to be insane to lessen suspicion with the exception of Horatio. “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet, to put an antic disposition on, that you, at such times seeing me, never shall…” (Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 171-173). The major conflict between honesty and deception plays a major part in the play and contributes to its theme. The characters all seem to manipulate each other for their own desires. This ends up badly for all of them, however since most of the major characters end up in a tragic death. Deception is viewed as a dangerous weapon that should be used with caution in that it creates

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