Loyalty And Betrayal In Hamlet

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Hamlet follows in the tradition of a revenge tragedy as the hero, Hamlet, seeks vengeance for his father 's murder. Throughout the play, the notion of vengeance is accompanied by the ideological belief that loyalty ought to be esteemed above the treacheries of betrayal. The text of the play works to emphasizes the importance of Hamlet 's loyalty to his own father and simultaneously degrades the betrayals of friends and family to Hamlet 's cause of vengeance. However, this goal is undermined by the ambiguity with which the binary opposition of loyalty and betrayal is defined and portrayed in the characters of Hamlet, Polonius, Ophelia, and Laertes, even to the extent that the instability of the opposition suggests there can be no fixed meaning to the text. When examining the motivations behind Hamlet 's character, his loyalty to his father appears to be his driving force throughout the entire play. In fact, his loyalty to his father appears to be the only thing that …show more content…
This is also why the privileging of loyalty over betrayal is problematic; loyalties in the play can be flipped to be seen as betrayals, and betrayals as loyalties. The notion of one being more favorable than the other is therefore arbitrary, as neither betrayals nor loyalties among key players have favorable outcomes, nor do they appear to be fixed as one or the other. Hamlet even says, “There is/ nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it/ so” (2.2.268-71), suggesting that no fixed meaning can be assigned to something; thoughts and beliefs come from our own perceptions and ideologies. In the end, the instability of the binary opposition is too great to truly favor one opposition over another, as they both are dependent on the ideologies which create

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