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Hamlet – Appearance vs. Reality

Hamlet –
Appearance vs. Reality
Hamlet one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays,
where the young prince of Denmark must uncover the truth about his fathers
death. Hamlet a play that tells the story of a young prince who’s father
recently died. Hamlets uncle Claudius marries his mother the queen and
takes the throne. As the play is told Hamlet finds out his father was murdered
by the recently crowned king. The theme that remains constant throughout
the play is appearance versus reality. Things within the play appear to
be true and honest but in reality are infested with evil. Many of the characters
within the play hide behind a mask of falseness. Four of the main characters
that hid behind this mask are Polonius, Rosencrantz (Guildenstern), the
king Cluadius. From behind this mask they give the impression of a person
who is sincere and genuine, in reality they are plagued with lies and evil.

There appearance will make it very difficult for Hamlet to uncover the
truth, the characters hide behind.

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Polonius the kings royal assistant has
a preoccupation with appearance. He always wants to keep up the appearance
of loving and caring person. Polonius appears like a man who loves and
cares about his son, Laertes. Polonius speaks to his son with advice that
sounds sincere but in reality it is rehearsed, hollow and without feeling.

Polonius gives his advice only to appear to be the loving caring father.

The reality is he only speaks to appear sincere as a politician, to look
good rather then actually be good: “And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night
the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell; my blessing
season this in thee!” Act 1
Polonius gives his son Laertes his blessing
to go away, he sends a spy to follow him and keep an eye on him. This shows
his lack of trust for anyone, he gives the appearance of a confident father
who trusts his son to go off on his own. In reality he lies about his trust
for his son by sending a spy to watch him. His advice he gives his son
is rehearsed and only said to give the appearance of a loving father. Polonius
further adds to the theme appearance verses reality by ordering Ophelia
to stop seeing Hamlet. He lies to her telling her that Hamlet does not
love her, he only lusts for her, in truth he does love her: Ay, springes
to catch woodcocks. I do know, When the blood burns , how prodigal the
soul Through the play Polonius hids behind his mask appearing to be honest
loving parent. In reality Polonius lies, manipulates people and eavesdrops
on peoples conversation. Polonius helps contribute to the theme appearance
verses reality by showing how his appearance is not his true nature, behind
the mask there lies someone totally different.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two of
Hamlets childhood friends who when asked by the king, try to find out what
is troubling the young prince. Both help to contribute to the theme by
showing there appearance of being Hamlets friends. The pair go to Hamlet
pretending to be his friends when in truth they are only there because
the king asked them to find the truth. There is some irony within the twins,
they are asked by the king to find out the truth by hiding within a lie,
by pretending to be his friend: A dream is but a shadow Act II.

Hamlet knows there purpose for their visit
is to dig into his soul to find the real reason for his actions as of late.

As the play continues the twins are asked again by the king to go to Hamlet
and try again to find the real reason for Hamlets behavior. Hamlet insults
them at every chance knowing they are lying to him about there purpose
of the visit: Tis as easy as lying; govern these ventages with you finger
and thumb, give it breath with your mouth…Act III
As the melodrama continues Hamlet goes
with the twins to reclaim money that another state owes Denmark. Hamlet
is sent by the king to retrieve the assets. In actuality Hamlet is sent
off to wither because the king, Claudius knows that Hamlet knows too much
and must be killed. The twins show there appearance of being Hamlets friends
but in truth they have a hidden reason for visiting with Hamlet. Both show
that it will be very difficult for Hamlet to uncover the fidelity hidden
within the lies.

Claudius the king of Denmark conduct in
council gives him the appearance of an Honest and honorable man. In Act
one scene two Claudius in the presence of council shows his true skill
and ease of manner at speaking. Claudius speaks well of the spent king
by showing a general love for him by all his subjects. Claudius show respect
for the old sovereign by speaking kind words of him. In reality he cares
little for the old king, he speaks kindly only to give the appearance of
loving brother.

Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s
death The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in
grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe Act I
As Claudius sends Voltimand and Cornelius
off to give the king of Norway the message of Fortibras, he thanks and
gives them complete trust, in the deliverance of the notation. This shows
his trust and caring for his subjects in front of the council, wining even
more consent from the council: We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.

Act I Claudius increases his appearance of a honest and honorable man,
in front of the council by showing his respect for Polonius. He gives him
the power to let his son Laertes stay or leave for Norway. Claudius speaks
highly of Polonius giving him thanks and saying the he was responsible
for Claudius becoming king:
The head is not more native to the
heart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth, Than is the
throne of Denmark to thy father. What woudlst thou have, Laertes
(Act I ii, 47-50)
This council would see this as a man who
greatly respects his subjects and cares for them. This adds to the difficulty
of uncovering the truth for Hamlet later. Hamlet enters the council chamber
and speaks with Claudius. The king (Claudius) speaks with Hamlet seeming
to be concerned with Hamlet. He gives advice that over grieveing is not
healthy, this shows a concern for Hamlets well being. This conduct of Claudius
gives him the appearance of being kind in front of council that accepts
him even more for his family values: How is it that the clouds still hang
on you? Act I Claudius appears to be even more caring when insulted by
Hamlet he still shows love and general care for Hamlet. A normal king would
have become angry and Hamlet would have gotten into trouble. Claudius shows
the council that he is understanding of Hamlet’s grief over his father:
A little more than kin, and less than kind. Act I . Claudius gives Hamlet
advice that over grieveing can be harmful and not healthy. Claudius tells
Hamlet that he is a admirable person for grieveing for so long over his
dads death. Yet again Claudius keeps putting on the appearance of the honorable

Tis sweet and commendable in your
nature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father:
But, you must know, you father lost a father; That father lost, lost
his; and the survivor bound In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow; but to persever In obstinate condolement
is a course Act I
Claudius further makes it difficult to
uncover the truth by announcing that Hamlet is next in line for the throne
of Denmark. This shows that Claudius would let Hamlet become the next king
when he is gone. This reveals a love and care for Hamlet to the council
and Gertrude making Claudius appear to be kind, loving person: You are
the most immediate to our throne; And with no less nobility of love Act
Claudius final conduct that makes him a
difficult truth to uncover, is his care and want that Hamlet remain in
Denmark. Claudius is insulted by Hamlet, he asks Hamlet to stay only that
his queen Gertrude wants Hamlet to stay. Claudius appears to be concerned
with Hamlets well being, Gertrude and council see this ,making Claudius
a more deserving person to be king.

As Claudius speaks in council he gives
the appearance of someone who is a deserving person that should be king.

Claudius is voted in as king meaning he is already approved by everyone.

Claudius gives respect to his subjects giving the council the impression
that he respects them. The king shows general concern for Hamlet, his nephew.

This will make it very difficult to prove the truth about Claudius in the
future for he has not only, one the love and respect of council (that voted
him in). But also has prevented a attack on Denmark (from Fortinbras) proving
that he is good king that can protect the state from harm. Claudius makes
it very difficult for Hamlet to uncover the truth about the true nature
of Claudius in the future.

Through the characters within the play
all help to show the theme, that being appearance verses reality. Polonius,
Rosencrantz (Guildenstern) and the king all appear to be good and honest.

As Hamlet finds out, all contain lies and have hidden intentions within
them. As each character is presented in the play all appear to be good
and honest making it a difficult task for Hamlet to uncover the hidden
truth about the nature of each character. As Hamlet best said it somethings
is rotten in Denmark That being the lies which have replaced or covered
the true state of each character.


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