Hamlet: Hamlet The Idealist

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Hamlet: Hamlet The Idealist



        In Hamlet, Elsinore is a society which people are seen acting in a

deceitful manner in order to gain personal measures and prestige.  These people

mask their true in intentions to acquire selfish desires.  In doing so they

develop a theme of the discrepancy between the way things appear and their true

realities. Hamlet, on the other hand, is an honest, moral individual trapped in

this deceitful society.  Hamlet is faced with the dilemma to either lower

himself to their level by utilizing deception, or leave wrongs unrighted by

remaining true to himself.  In Hamlet, the theme of appearance versus reality is

prevalent in Hamlet's decision between his morals and his father as he decides

to utilize the deceit of his society, starts recognizing it in others and

finally in using it to avenge his father.


        When Hamlet is introduced he is seen acting as he feels and this is what

prevents him from repaying in kind for his father's murder.  Hamlet grieves over

the loss of his father so long and intensely that no one understands, for

Gertrude and Claudius tell him he needs to move on like they have done, yet

Hamlet can't understand this.  His actions are reflections of his true feelings

while the rest of his peers seem to be ignoring their grief.  When Hamlet finds

out that he is supposed to kill Claudius for his father he becomes distraught.

This is because Hamlet's morals won't allow him to kill even if it releases Old

Hamlet from his purgatory.  He later realizes that he must start appearing

differently than usual in order to carry out his father's word.  Hamlet decides

to put on an "antic disposition" and in doing so has started becoming deceitful.

He is trying to mask his true feelings in order to prepare himself for his



        When Hamlet starts being deceitful he starts to recognize the deceit in

others and how they make themselves appear differently from their realities.

Hamlets decision to put on an "antic disposition" was not honest to himself but

he felt that he must appear differently than he feels to fulfill his needs.

Hamlet first recognizes the deceit in Claudius after his father visits.

Claudius committed the sin of fratricide (especially horrendous in this

Christian society); but was now enjoying the fruits of his sin at the cost of

his community.  He tricked Elsinore into thinking he was a good king who stepped

in to save the kingdom, yet in reality he was the cause of all the trouble.

Claudius knew he had done wrong, for he later laments his action, but was now

just, "smile[ing], and smile[ing], and be[ing] a villain"(IV 108).  Hamlet now

had to choose to either disgrace his society by allowing a fake and murderer to

rule or to correct the unknown wrong.  Secondly Hamlet suspected Rosencrantz and

Guildendtern of being manipulated by the deceptive king, so he checked the

letters on the way to England.  In doing so he uncovered the fact that they

weren't the true friends they appeared to be.  Hamlet found out that the king

had ordered for him to be executed so he changed the letter to order the deaths

of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead.  Thus,  Hamlet was now merging with his

society by utilizing deceit in order to kill and to find answers to his problems

and questions.  This "antic disposition" was more a characteristic of his

society than of Hamlet but he felt it was necessary to cleanse his society of

this evil ruler.


        Hamlet could finally allow himself to kill because of this deceit.  In

III.4 Hamlet finally tries to kill the king while talking to his mother. Hamlet

had actually killed Polonioius, but he knew that he  now had the ability to kill

Claudius. The lack of remorse Hamlet expresses over the deaths of Polonious,

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern show the differences between his original grief

stricken appearance and his new reality.  However, even though he was more

deceitful, he was still not completely changed from his original instinctively

trusting self.  This is seen when Hamlet accepts Laertes' challenge after he

witnessed the situation between himself and Elsinore getting tense throughout

his "antic disposition."  He naively accepts the duel and in doing so he gets

poisoned.  To Hamlet the duel appeared as a recreational event but he reality

was that it killed him.  When Hamlet finds out about the poisoned sword and wine

he finally kills Claudius, making him drink the wine, just as Claudius had done

to his mother and father.  The deaths of Polonious, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern

and Claudius, who were all, "Hoist[ed] by their own petar[s]," show that it is

better to be truthful than deceitful; for ones' wicked ways will catch them.


        Hamlet was originally an idealist who believed he lived in a place where

appearance was reality but finally realized he was mistaken.  Had Hamlet not

changed from his original appearance to his final reality, by using deceit, he

would have never been able to kill Claudius.  However, if he had stayed true to

himself he still would have died without purging the corrupt from Elsinore nor

avenging his father's death, thus leaving his father's kingdom sullied, with no

hope for purification.




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