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Appearance Versus Reality in Hamlet

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ravneet dhaliwal

on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of Appearance Versus Reality in Hamlet

Appearance Versus Reality in Hamlet
How is Appearanve vs. Reality Portrayed in Hamlet
Hamlet is known to be one of the greatest plays that Shakespeare has written. A major theme that is consistent throughout this play is the theme of Appearance vs. Reality. The play Hamlet portrays many characters who appear and behave in one way, but in reality they are the total opposite. Most of these characters do not realize this until the end of the play. Throughout the play, most of the characters appear to be honest and sincere, however in reality, they are the complete opposite. In particular, there are five characters in the play who demonstrate the theme of Appearance vs. Reality accurately. The five characters are:
1. Hamlet
2. Claudius
3. Polonius
4. Rosencrantz
5. Guildenstern

Hamlet
Appearance
Polonius
Appearance
Claudius
Appearance
Conclusion
Several characters in the play Hamlet betray and deceive one another in order to gain what they desire. Shakespeare has used the theme of Appearance vs. Reality to unmask and release the inner thoughts of the characters in the play. The five characters who continuously pretend to be something they are not are Hamlet, Claudius, Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern. These characters consistently put on a make to hide their emotions and intentions.
Ravneet Dhaliwal
Hamlet makes it seem like he has gone insane due to fact that his father died. Alone with this, he blames his insanity on his mother marrying his uncle, Claudius, and Ophelia rejecting him

“And he repelled – short tale to make – fell into a sadness, then into a fast, thence to a watch, thence into weakness… Into the madness wherein now he raves…” (2.2.150-155)
Reality
Hamlet is actually pretending to be insane so he can find out what Claudius' intentions are. Hamlet has made the decision that once he finds out Claudius' intentions he is going to kill him, and use his insanity as an excuse.

“As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on…” (1.5. 190-191)
King Claudius portrays himself as a very honorable, trustworthy, and upset due to the loss of his brother, former King Hamlet. Claudius tries to show that he cares for the well being of Hamlet and Gertrude.
“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,” (1.2.1-4).
Claudius acts to be innocent and disappointment about Hamlet’s father’s deaths while talking to Hamlet
Claudius also appears as if he is investigating on Hamlet to ensure that he can settle down and so that Claudius can support him in establishing a good lifestyle, so he is not always grieving about the death of his father.
Reality
In reality Claudius is very evil and is the one who is responsible for his brother, King Hamlet's death. Claudius does not care for Hamlet of Gertrude he only wants the throne for himself. Once Claudius realizes that Hamlet is trying to find answer, he tries to vanish him.
"England; for like the hectic in my blood he rages, and thou must cure me. Till I know ‘tis done...” (4.3.69-71)
Claudius is only faking to be innocent and disappointed about the death. This is because he is scared that Hamlet may find out about the crime that he committed.
The only reason Claudius snoops around Hamlet and investigates him is because he wants to be aware of everything Hamlet does, and also to find out whether Hamlet is going insane because of something else other that his father’s death.
Polonius is King Claudius's royal assistant, who seems to be a very caring and love person. He is always ready to take on responsibility and people of the kingdom believe that he is truly very concerned about the kingdom
He always seems as if he caring, happy, and very supportive and true to his son Laertes. He also appears as a father who has a lot of faith and trust in his son
Polonius feels that he needs to support his daughter Ophelia with her love for Hamlet so he decides to tell her the ‘truth’ about Hamlet not really loving her but using her
“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,” (1.3.81-85).
Reality
Polonius purposely acts sincere rather than actually being good. Polonius only acts like he is supportive towards the people of the kingdom, however in reality he is a very evil and selfish man. He only cares and worries about his comforts and does only what he feels is best for him.
He acts is an honest and trustworthy father, however he is the one who decides to send away his son Laertes. Even though he sends Laertes away, Polonius also decides to send a spy after Laertes to keep an eye on everything he does
Polonius goes to his daughter Ophelia and tells her that Hamlet is only using her and does not love her, but in reality he only does this because he does like Hamlet’s insanity and does not want his daughter around him
“Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers not that of that dye which their investments show, but mere implorators, of unholy suits,” (1.3.133-135).
“You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo, before you visit him, to make inquire of his behaviour,” (2.1.3-5).
Hamlet also appears as being very mad at Ophelia and threatens her, and we as the readers believe it is due to his father’s death that he is acting in such a way.
Hamlet is not treating Ophelia with hatred due to his father’s death, but because Ophelia’s ignorance cause caused Hamlet to have hate towards her. Hamlet is using his fake insanity to take advantage of the situation and to convince people that he is insane, Hamlet portrays hatred towards Ophelia and blames her for his insanity.

"Hamlet is understandably upset and bewildered when Ophelia severs their relationship with no explanation." (Hamlet's Treatment of Ophelia and Gertrude ,pg. 1, para 7)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Appearance
Reality
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been two of the closest friends that Hamlet has had since childhood.
They obey the instructions of King Claudius and Queen Gertrude about trying to find out what is bothering Hamlet
Both these men act and talk to Hamlet as if they are still his true and great friends
Act to be good friends to Hamlet when they go to talk speak to him. In reality the two men are no longer Hamlet's friends and are against him
They are sent after Hamlet to gather proof on why Hamlet has gone man, they have been ordered to seek the truth
They have their disguised reasons as to why they made a visit to Hamlet
“The two go to Hamlet with the illusion of being ‘friends’ friends with Hamlet, but in truth are simply there to abide by the king’s orders. Their inquiry about his problems is not sincere,” (To Be or Not to Be, pg. 1, para 4).
Discussion Questions:
1. Within in play do you believe that Hamlet is only acting to be
insane, or is there a point in which he has actually become insane?

2. Even out in the real world and in todays society people choose to
wear a mask and fake their identity. Why might this be?

References
"Appearance Vs. Reality: Essays Research Papers." 123HelpMe.com. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=53590

"Comparing Hamlet's Treatment of Ophelia and Gertrude." 123HelpMe.com. 9 Apr 2015
http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=17127
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