Hamlet By William Shakespeare : The Binary Opposition Of Truth Versus Unawareness

Hamlet By William Shakespeare : The Binary Opposition Of Truth Versus Unawareness

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“The truth will set you free” is a commonly used expression, but whether this is correct is up for debate, especially in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. In Hamlet by William Shakespeare the binary opposition of truth versus unawareness is expressed within the characters and the happenings around them. In this case, the word within the binary opposition that society believes to be privileged is ‘truth’. Despite this, the theme of truth within Hamlet leaves the characters worse off than they would have been had they been unaware to the affairs around them. The binary oppositions of truth versus unawareness are dependent on the character and the issue that is occurring or that has occurred.
The two binaries, truth and unawareness, are present throughout the entire play of Hamlet due to the murder of old king Hamlet, as well as other incidents that come about. The truth is often associated with Hamlet and Claudius because they are the characters who are aware of what happened to old King Hamlet. In comparison, unawareness can be seen in characters such as Ophelia, Gertrude, and most other characters because they are unaware that old Hamlet was murdered. Claudius knows the truth because he is the murderer of old King Hamlet, while Hamlet knows the truth because the Ghost made him aware. The truth is impacting the lives of Hamlet and Claudius extremely negatively; Hamlet has decided to dedicate his life to outing Claudius for the murder. In comparison, Claudius begins to face inner turmoil for his crime and eventually spirals into committing more terrible crimes in order to cover up the first one.
Truth is neither setting Claudius and Hamlet free nor holding them back, but rather it is the complex operations of the ideologies seen wit...


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...dered by Claudius. It is here that truth is seen as the privileged word between the two binaries, the more positive word based on societal opinions. The theme of unawareness can be seen in the play during the different interpretations of Ophelia’s death by the grave diggers and Gertrude. The grave diggers knowing the truth, while Gertrude and everyone else believe Ophelia’s death to be an accident. The truth is not necessarily the better option within the play because Hamlet did not achieve the intended outcome. The intended outcome was for Claudius to be exposed as the murderer of Old King Hamlet after the play, but unfortunately that did not work. In comparison, being unaware was also not beneficial because no one lived no matter what they knew. The two binaries within the play show that neither option is stronger than the other when terrible actions have occurred.

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