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Hamlet Act II: Appearance vs. Reality

By Rachel Skully, John Douglass, Johnsey Erdmann, Emily Henry, Mircea Lazar, and Elizabeth ReicharPr
by

Elizabeth Reichart

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Hamlet Act II: Appearance vs. Reality

Hamlet Act II Appearance Vs. Reality Appearance vs. Reality: Hamlet's Nature Appearance vs. Reality: Readings from the Text In Act II, Hamlet kicks off his antic disposition:
Interactions with Ophelia: "As I was sewing in my closet,/ Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,/ no hat upon his head." (II.i.87-9)
Based on Ophelia's statements, it appears Hamlet is going mad and is becoming less and less stable, but is that true?
Interactions with Polonius: Hamlet: "Words, words, words." Polonius: "What is the matter my Lord?" (II.ii.210-11).
Hamlet also acts like he is becoming a lunatic during his conversation with Polonius, calling him, among other things, a "fish-monger."
(II.i.8-10) "Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris/And how, and who, what means, and where they keep."
The appearance is that Polonius has the upmost trust in Laertes, but the reality is that he does not, because he sends his servant to spy on his son.
If Polonius is putting on this mask for his own son, what else is he hiding? Appearance vs. Reality: Polonius Hamlet appears to be mad for Ophelia
(II.i.95-7) "Mad for thy love?"/"My lord, I do not know/but truly I do fear it".
What is the reality of their relationship?

(II.i.99-103) "He took me by the wrist and held me hard./Then goes he to the length of all his arm,/And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,/ He falls to such perusal of my face/ as he would draw it."
How much of this antic dispostion is reality? What are Hamlet's true feelings for Ophelia or does he have any at all?
Was the story Ophelia telling Polonius 100% true? Or perhaps she was exaggerating the story to garner a greater reaction from her father. Appearance vs. Reality: Hamlet and Ophelia Appearance vs. Reality: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern (II.ii.161-182) The conversation between the King, Gertrude, and Polonius
(II.ii.177-8) Queen: "Be you and I behind an arras then./Mark the encounter"
The ultimate appearance versus reality: the King and Queen will mask their appearance behind a tapestry.
In reality, they will observe the nature of Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia
(II.ii.187-237) A conversation between Polonius and Hamlet.
(II.ii.226-7) "How/pregnant sometimes his replies are!"
The reality of Hamlet's feelings are hinted at in his conversation.
Hamlet's antic disposition is the appearance. (II.ii.581-2) Hamlet: "The play's the thing/where in I'll catch the conscience of the King."
Hamlet will base the reality of Claudius' sentiments about the atrocities he committed off of his outer appearance.
Hamlet tries to find any way he can to justify what the ghost has told him, and is relying on his own crude, biased litmus tests to discern to truth.
II.ii. 627-30 Hamlet: "The spirit that I have seen may be a (devil,) and the (devil) hath power T" assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps, one of my weakness and my melancholy."
Hamlet struggles with whether the ghost is actually his father or the devil. Also demonstrating Hamlet's tough decision to murder is uncle or not. The reality being that it is morally wrong, but appearing as the right thing to do since Claudius may have murdered his father.
It shows while Hamlet says he is sane and mentally stable, he is constantly wrestling with questions in his head that might actually be making him crazy.
Appearance Vs. Reality: Soliloquies Hamlet's two friends do not hold up the façade well. He sees right through their act.
(II.ii.303-4) Hamlet: "I know the good King and Queen have sent for you."
(II.ii.313-5) Hamlet: "If you love me, hold off not." Guildenstern: "My lord, we were sent for."
His friends are extremely sheepish about revealing to Hamlet their actual intentions.
Hamlet reveals to them he merely pretends to be insane around Gertrude and Claudius to facilitate his charade. (II.i.130-1)Polonius: "Come, we go to the King./This must be known..."
The moment he concludes the cause of Hamlet's moodiness, he rushes out to tell Claudius.
Polonius gives the appearance that he is extremely loyal to Claudius.
(II.ii.1, 3-5) King: "Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern... The need we have to use you did provoke/Our hasty sending. Something have you heard/ Of Hamlet's transformation"
Claudius and Gertrude put on this facade of caring for Hamlet's well-being by inviting his friends to Elsinore. Appearance vs. Reality: Claudius and Gertrude When Voltemand and Cornelius return from Norway, it appears as though the "conflict" with the Danes has been resolved.
(II.ii.72-3) Voltemand: "He, in brief, obeys,/receives rebuke from Norway."
In reality, there was no conflict to begin with. It was all a cover up.
It appears as though Claudius has had great accomplishment in his first decision as king by ensuring safety for his people.
(II.ii.82-) "...that it might please you to give quiet pass/ through your dominions for this enterprise/on such regards of safety and allowance"
In reality, from the information we received from the ghost, it was not the Danes who killed King Hamlet, but Claudius. Appearance vs. Reality: Claudius & Gertrude Appearance vs. Reality:
Human Nature - Act II, Scene 2 illustrates the changing attitudes of Renaissance-era thinkers toward the nature of man.
The fact Hamlet recites the Aeneid shows a return to classical antiquity, a hallmark of the Renaissance.
"Oh what a piece of work is man!" soliloquy (lines 316-334)
Contrasting image of the abilities of man: do we as humans possess the ability to transcend the mundane?
What is the appearance of the human condition? That we are noble ("...how infinite in faculties, in form and movement how express and admirable...") and cold-blooded (..."man delights me <no> nor woman neither...") alike.
What is the reality? Left to interpretation.

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