Deception is a critical component of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Its appears most significantly in Claudius concealing murder and Hamlet concealing knowledge of the same. Hamlet also feigns madness in order to misguide others and attempt to prove Claudius guilty. Others characters, including Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern all employ trickery as well to uncover the source of Hamlet’s apparent madness and report back to the dishonorable Claudius. The play’s conclusion suggests that deception will always result in destruction and tragedy.
Claudius effectively misleads members of the Danish court in order to discourage any skepticism that may result from his sudden takeover of power. Claudius asserts that he has not disqualified the courtiers’ “better wisdoms, which have freely gone / With this affair along” (I.ii.15-6), thus validating his apparently unlawful actions. Claudius’ persuasive yet misleading address is intended to justify his hasty marriage to Queen Gertrude and regard the death of Hamlet’s father as merely an unfortunate occurrence, not as a murder that he executed.
Not convinced by this story, Hamlet focuses on misleading and catching Claudius. Hoping to “catch the conscience of the King” (II.ii.634), Hamlet...
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Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay
793 Words4 Pages
Madness and Insanity in Shakespeare's Hamlet
Shakespeare's Hamlet is a master of deception. Hamlet decides to make Claudius believe that he is insane, but the scheme backfires when everyone, except Claudius, falls for it. Ophelia is one of those who believes Hamlet lost his mind, and when he does not return her love, she is so brokenhearted that she commits suicide. Near the end of the tragedy, Hamlet plays the part so well, that he convinces himself he is insane. Clearly, Hamlet's plan to put on an antic disposition is a tragic error.
Hamlet's plan for the antic disposition is to fool all the courtiers, especially Claudius. This way Claudius will not think that Hamlet is capable of killing him and…show more content…
Do it, England,
For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me. Till I know 'tis done,
Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun. (IV; iii; 53-64)
This shows that Claudius penetrates Hamlet's deception, and by sending Hamlet to England, Claudius could arrange for Hamlet's execution, and have Denmark not know about the entire matter. Claudius triumphs over Hamlet's antic disposition, ruining Hamlet's characterization.
Hamlet's antic disposition tragically fooled poor Ophelia. She is so devastated between her father's death and Hamlet's betrayal that she takes her own life. Hamlet insists to Ophelia that he never loved her, and that she is a fool for believing him, which shows that he is trying to convince others he has lost his mind. "You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you not." (III; i; 116-118) However, while fighting with Laertes during Ophelia's funeral, Hamlet jumps onto her coffin and professes his true love for her. "I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/Could not, with all their quantity of love, / Make up my sum." (V; i; 250-253) This shows that despite his earlier statements, Hamlet does love Ophelia, but his antic