Appearance vs Reality Hamlet Essay Hamlet is often referred to as one of Shakespeare best plays ever written. In this play there are several themes that are present, one of them being is appearance vs. reality. The theme of appearance vs. reality is very common among Shakespeare’s plays. Many characters in Hamlet mask their true identity and portray themselves as innocent and trustworthy to other characters in order to achieve their ulterior motive. In Hamlet several characters appear to be innocent, but their ulterior motive makes them anything but innocent.
Claudius portrays himself as caring, honest and a kind person in front of everyone. He shows that he wants the best for everyone, especially Hamlet. In the beginning of the play where Claudius is talking about king Hamlet’s death he quotes “ To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom”(I ii 5). This quote reveals that Claudius is in great grief over his brothers’ death. In reality he was the one who killed his own brother and married Gertrude. He masks his true identity in order to remain in control of the kingdom. He shows his kindness to Hamlet by promising him the throne , he does all this while planning to kill Hamlet.
Later on in the play when Claudius and Hamlet are talking, Claudius states “Of impious stubbornness. ‘Tis unmanly grief. It shows a will most incorrect to heaven, A heart unfortified, a mind impatient, An understanding simple and unschooled. ”(I ii 94). This clearly shows that Claudius doesn’t really think much of Hamlet, also he degrades Hamlet by questioning his manliness and calling him stupid. A father who is caring and kind would never talk to his son in such a manner that Claudius talks to Hamlet. Further more this is shown when Claudius pretends to care about Hamlet’s insanity though he thinks that Hamlet is far from being insane.
Claudius hides his true intentions from Hamlet and from other characters in order to make him look innocent. Secondly, Hamlet also portrays himself as innocent to the court members and his own family by claiming that every act he commits is due to his insanity. In act I Hamlet quotes “Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself, As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on. ” (I,v,172). This quote shows that Hamlet is just pretending to be mad and he doing so to avoid suspicion.
In act V when talking to Laertes before they fence he quotes “I here proclaim madness Was’t Hamlet wrong’d Laertes? Never Hamlet: If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away, And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes, Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it. Who does it then? His madness: if’t be so, Hamlet is of the faction that is wrong’d; His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy. ” (V ii 210). This speech from Hamlet clearly states that Hamlet admits himself that he is mad and also blames the crime he has committed, which is killing Polonius was due to the fact that he was mentally ill.
He uses his madness as an excuse to make him look innocent. Further more Hamlet abuses his “insanity” to get away with many other conflicts, this is shown when he disrespects his mother in act V and his mother claims he is acting this way because he is mentally ill, this is also shown when he is talking to Polonius,when he makes fun of him. Polonius assumes that he is acting this way because he is “love sick”. In reality we know that he is just pretending to be insace. All these events clearly show that Hamlet is far from being what he claims to be.
Many characters in Hamlet appear to be trustworthy to other characters, but in fact they are far from being trustworthy to anyone, and one of them being Polonius. He portrays himself as caring, loving and a trusting father to his children, in reality he has no trust in his children what so ever, this is evidently shown in act (II i) where Polonius sends Reynaldo to France to spy on Laertes. This event clearly demonstrates that even when Polonius told Laertes how to live in France, he still doesn’t trust his own son and sends a spy, this shows how much trust he has in Laertes.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they are friends of Hamlet from Wittenburg. It seems they have come to Denmark for a friendly visit, but their true intention is to spy for the king and queen and figure out what’s the main cause of Hamlet’s insanity. Hamlet refuses to tell them anything, thus showing that even his own friends aren’t trustworthy. This shows that Hamlet can’t even trust his own friends. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take Hamlet to England supposedly for the protection of his friend Hamlet, though their real motive is to save Claudius reputation as a king.
Throughout the whole play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern act as enemies to Hamlet, always forcing him to give them information. Hamlet’s mom (Gertrude) also tries to appear that she is trustworthy, in front of Hamlet. After when she observes Hamlet kill Polonius, she immediately tells Claudius. “Whips out his rapier,cries “A rat, a rat! ”/ And in the brainish apprehension kills/The unseen good man”. (IV i 10). This line from Gertrude clearly shows that she can’t be trusted with anything. A normal mother who is trustful would not tell anyone about their child’s crime to anyone, instead she would try to help their child not get in trouble.
Here Gertrude does the opposite and tells the king, thus showing that she cannot be trusted by Hamlet. Hamlet one of the best plays written by Shakespeare. It is clear that several characters in Hamlet pose themselves as someone else in order to achieve their ulterior motives. In order to cover their true intentions they portray themselves to be innocent and trustworthy, due to this many characters die in the play. We can say without a doubt that there is really something rotten in Denmark.