Identity And True Identity In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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In the text Hamlet, the playwright William Shakespeare relays a tragic tale of people who deceive, betray and manipulate their own family and how these shaped their identity as individuals. The drastic change in the characters’ behaviours due to tragic events and difference in individuals’ own perception from others’ is communicated thoroughly in the text. Shakespeare developed the idea that a realization regarding one’s true identity can influence how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others.
Individuals undergo a transition which consists of confusion and questioning one’s identity before finding their true self. Once individuals realize their true identity they perceive themselves differently and find their purpose of
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A threat to the image established by individuals can lead to responses that can reveal the individuals’ true intentions and identity altering other’s initial perception of them. Claudius is a two-faced individual who established an image as an admirable king but when the Ghost informed Hamlet about Claudius’s crime, Hamlet’s perception of Claudius changed. Although Hamlet does not particularly show a liking to Claudius, Hamlet’s initial hatred is directed to Gertrude for remarrying so quickly. It is not until when the Ghost appeared to Hamlet and reveals Claudius’s intentions did Hamlet realizes Claudius’s true identity which altered Hamlet’s perception of his uncle. Claudius believes Hamlet’s “madness…must not unwatched go” (III, i, 189) for it “will be some danger” (167) to his secret and façade. With this suspicion, Claudius takes action and instructs the King of England “by letters…the present death of Hamlet.” (IV, iii, 66-67) When this fails, Claudius manages to convince Laertes to “be ruled by [him]” (IV, vii, 60) and devise “…an exploit [in which Laertes] might be the organ.” (65, 71) This is the moment when Claudius realizes the threat Hamlet poses to him that will lead to his downfall and therefore responds by showing a part of his true identity—his manipulative and plotting side. With Claudius’s lies slowly unravelling some individuals, such as Horatio and even his own self, soon follow Hamlet’s change of perception on Claudius. Hamlet informs Horatio about the letter containing instructions of Claudius to England regarding Hamlet’s murder. Horatio expresses his shock saying, “why, what a king is this!” (V, ii, 66) Horatio’s astonishment shows he does not expect something so cruel from the king who dealt with young Fortinbras’ demands and threats diplomatically to avoid a war. It is evident throughout the play that Claudius loves Gertrude and sees her as “conjunctive to [his] life and
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