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Essay: Deception in Hamlet

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: June 6, 2021*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 992 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)
  • Tags: Hamlet essays Shakespeare essays
  • Deception in Hamlet
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Deception and lies are one of the many actions that can put us in difficult situations which can lead to unfortunate consequences. Deception is also used in many fictional stories to add suspense to the storyline and really develop a plot that would keep readers coming back for more. In Hamlet, a play written by William Shakespeare, Deception plays a major role in the storyline. Hamlet was placed between the 14th and 15th century in Denmark. Its a play about royalty, love and most importantly, murder. The play starts off with Claudus, king Hamlets murdering him and taking the crown, power and queen Gertrude while deceiving everyone saying it was a snake that poisoned him and hiding the true fact that he killed his own brother and taking all of his fortunes. The story goes on with Hamlet griefing about his father’s passing until he discovers the truth about what actually happened to his father, then Hamlet plots to deceive everyone and put on a false persona of him being insane to avenge his father’s death by murdering Claudius. The theme of deception plays a big role in the entire storyline, as one thing leads onto another, with death being a major theme with the end goal of Hamlet killing Claudius in the end while a chain of events that occur that results to a lot of the other central characters also facing their death in the play because of deception.

Claudius deceives the entire family by playing off king Hamlet’s death as an ‘accident’ while taking in all of his fortunes. His actions of deception result in the death of Polonius, Gertrude and also Ophelia. Claudius and Polonius come up with a plan on spying on Hamlet to find out what has caused him to act so out of character which ended up getting Polonius killed by spying on the conversation Hamlet had with his mother Gertrude. Claudius also deceives Gurtude when he plots to murder Hamlet with Laertes to poison the drink given to Hamlet which Gurtude ends up drinking and poisoning herself. “Gertrude, do not drink.” “I will my lord, I pray you pardon me.” “it is posion’d cup. It is too late.” (Shakespeare V II 282 – 284). This reflects on how Claudius kept the secret of the poison from his wife and because of his actions the death of his wife occurs.

Hamlet also deceives Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by using them in the play that showed a father getting murdered to get Claudius to confess what he did. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern also tried to deceive Hamlet when they were ordered by Claudius to occupy him to England where Claudius sent a note on that said to execute Hamlet upon his arrival. Their disloyalty and dishonesty is also a reason for their death when they were sent by Claudius to keep an eye on Hamlet. “But in the beaten way of friendship, what makes you at Elsinore?” “To visit you, My Lord, No other occasion.” (Shakespeare II II 266 – 267). They deceive Hamlet right in front of his face and say they are just here to visit him hiding the truth that they were sent by the king to spy on him.

Hamlets seeing the ghost of his father had a huge role in Hamlet’s deception. “O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power so to seduce!- won to his shameful lust that will of my most seeming virtuous queen.” (Shakespeare I V 45 – 47). This was what started off Hamlet putting on a false persona to trick everyone when his father was explaining to him how to own brother stole his wife, which sets off Hamlet to create a plan to deceive everyone and avenge his father’s death.

Ophelia also was in on trying to deceive Hamlet. “Where is your father?” “At home, my lord.” “Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in’s own house. Farewell.” (Shakespeare III I 130 – 133). In this Ophelia is trying to mislead Hamlet into believing that her father is home when then the truth is that she has been set up by Polonius and Claudius to spy on Hamlet and find the answer to all this madness. Hamlet does not believe Ophelia so he gets very violent and attempts to create a scene to find out where Polonius and Claudius are hiding. All these central characters used deception in a way to mislead each other to mislead them into believing other assumptions which resulted in them dreadful consequences.

Deception in Hamlet is widely accepted as being one of the main themes of the play. Out of all of the events leading to Hamlet’s death, the problems where a result of spying cost him the most. In the play, deception is a major factor in the cause of the deaths of all those who die, including Hamlet himself. The Queen from deceiving Claudius and keeping the secret that Hamlet put on a fake persona, Claudius for deceiving everyone by killing his own brother, and then later on plotting with Laertes on poisoning Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern trying to deceive their childhood friend Hamlet by obeying by Claudius’ commands, Ophelia in trying to deceive Hamlet and help her father spy on Hamlet. All are either behind deceptions or being afflicted by them. Without deception within this play, the plot would be severely lacking in being interesting. The entire plot is set up by Claudius’s deception of murdering King Hamlet and is carried by Hamlet deceiving everybody into thinking he is a mad man. Without deception, this play would struggle to keep readers entertained, and therefore it is one of the most important themes in Hamlet.

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