Hamlet: Nature of Truth

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Hamlet: Nature of Truth Hamlet To some, truth is something that is absolute and unchanging. To others, truth is volatile and inconstant. In the 16th and 17th century, the foundations of civilization itself had been shaken. Many of the ideas which were thought to be absolutely true had been plunged into the depths of uncertainty. The cosmological, geographical, and religious revolutions called into question the nature of truth itself. It is no wonder, then, that some of the great writers at the time included within their works a treatise on the ways in which truth is constructed. Because of the major ideological revolutions that shaped his world Shakespeare used characters and theatrical devices to create their own ideas on the construction of truth. Shakespeare agrees that each individual must search for his or her conception of the truth, based upon our his or her current knowledge, but he uses the limitations of the stage itself to demonstrate this idea. When Ophelia dies at the end of Act IV, Gertrude gives Laertes a vivid description of Ophelia's death, but this death is never acted on stage. We never know for sure whether Gertrude is telling the truth, and if she was a witness to the death, why she didn't try to save Ophelia. The fact that we only hear about the death calls into question the validity of the transmission of knowledge from one person to another, suggesting that truth itself is not something that one will always learn from another, but something that one must find by oneself. Shakespeare further complicates the truth in Hamlet with the many unanswered questions he leaves us with. We don't know for sure if the ghost is truly good or e... ... middle of paper ... ...d by the rest of history. The revolution of thought that occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries forced Shakespeare and other authors to change the foundations of their own thought. They were all willing to present to us their own ideology of truth so that we may benefit from their knowledge. Everyone faces these crises in life, the crisis of one's own opinions being shattered by reality. We may hold on to our opinions, disregarding fact or twisting the facts to fit our theories. But in order for progress to occur, we must at times shed our previous beliefs in favor of ones newly created. We must endeavor to find a version of the truth that is based in knowledge, and one that satisfies our desires. We may never find a version of truth that is satisfactory for everyone. But our search cannot cease. The truth, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.
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