Throughout Shakespeare’s Hamlet, deception is the most predominant theme recognized during the play. Characters within the play are notable for their use of deception of one another in order to achieve their own personal goals. The constant theme of appearance versus reality and deception is seen as a consequence of lying, manipulation and shown largely through the act of keeping secrets. In Shakespeare’s most distinguished work, he reveals the momentousness of deception, manipulation and dishonesty all for the sake of supremacy and revenge.
The theme of deception can be perceived through acts of serious and vengeful lying. In Hamlet, the form of deception, lying, can be found in many scenes all through the play. A strong example of lying in the play is shown through King Claudius’ aside in Act 3. The aside reads, “O, tis’ too true. How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience. The Harlot’s cheek, beautied with plast’ring art, is not more ugly to the thing that helps it than is my deed to my most painted word. O heavy burden! (3.1.49-54)”. In this quotation it is clear that Claudius is experiencing guilt because of diction relating to ‘conscience.’ He is also aware that his actions may retaliate against himself at some point as he says, ‘O heavy burden’ lamenting the possible consequences of his actions. The King is comparing his lies, and act of murder to women who use makeup. He is stating that his constant deceptions or “painted words” are no worse than a woman wearing her everyday makeup. This creates the illusion that all women in the time of Hamlet, are perceived as the main source of deception. Another strong source of lying in Hamlet is in Act 1, scene 5; in which Hamlet co...
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...in the tragic play Hamlet. To name some other acts of deceit in the play; Horatio is a deceptive character because he willingly participated in Hamlet’s scheme to “catch the conscious of the king”. Ophelia by foreboding to tell Hamlet of her father’s Machiavellian ways. Fortinbras on the account that he lies to his uncle about condemning Denmark and lastly Rosencrantz and Guildenstern lied about their tedious voyage to England and it’s true purpose. It is apparent that each and every character in Hamlet, was deceitful and demonstrated acts of deception throughout the play. From this discovery it is clear that most of those who did deceive, sealed their fate and in some ways signed their own metaphorical death warrant. In Shakespeare’s epic tragedy laced with deception, characters lie, manipulate and keep secrets for the simple objective of revenge and personal gain.
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