Free Hamlet Essays: Deceit and the Downfall of Hamlet
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Deceit and the Downfall of Hamlet
Deceit is a major cause of the downfall of Hamlet. This is demonstrated in three instances in the play. First, Polonius spies on Hamlet while he is talking privately with his mother Gertrude. Second, Claudius sends Hamlet away to England. Finally, Laertes and Claudius scheme to kill Hamlet.
The first way that deceit leads to the eventual downfall of Hamlet is Polonius' spying. In Act III, scene iii, Polonius decides to help the king by spying on Hamlet and his mother when he says, "My lord, [the king] he's going to his mothers closet. Behind the arras I'll convey myself to hear the process." (III; iii; 28 - 29) In Act III, scene iv, Polonius gets his chance and listens to a conversation between Hamlet and his mother, hoping that Hamlet would confide something in his mother that could be used against him. Unfortunately for Polonius, Hamlet hears him behind the curtain, and (thinking that Polonius is actually a spying King Claudius) immediately stabs and kills him. This event contributes to Hamlet's downfall because Claudius is able to use it as an excuse to send Hamlet away to England. Officially, the king sends Hamlet away, "for thine especial safety," (IV; iii; 37) with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because the murder might earn him some enemies. Privately though, Claudius plans to have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern go with Hamlet to convey a message to the King of England that Hamlet is to be executed. In addition, by sending Hamlet away, Claudius is protecting himself because Hamlet is, "loved of the distracted multitude [the public]." (IV; iii; 4) So, if Hamlet were to show the people that Claudius had killed Hamlet's father, then they might believe him, and as a result, overthrow and kill Claudius. Thus, the downfall is that Claudius wants Hamlet dead. In addition, if Claudius' plan works, then Hamlet dies and his father’s death would not be avenged. So, if Polonius had not spied on Hamlet and Gertrude, Hamlet would not have killed Polonius and thus, Claudius would not have a good enough excuse to send Hamlet away to England.
Fortunately for Hamlet, Claudius' deceit fails. This deceit, however, still does contribute to the eventual downfall of Hamlet. Aboard the ship to England, Hamlet discovers Claudius' message being sent by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet explains later, "Groped I to find out them, [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern] had my desire, fingered their packet, and in fine withdrew.