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An Essay About The Theme Of Appearances Vs Reality As It Appears In Shakespeare's Hamlet

1482 words - 6 pages

Hamlet - Appearances Versus RealityOne of the major themes in Hamlet by William Shakespeare is the concept of things not always being as they appear. This is demonstrated by most of the major characters in this play. Claudius brings up this factor in more than one aspect; his love for Hamlet and Gertrude can be examined in regards to appearances versus reality. Hamlet can also be viewed in this manner with respect to his sanity and his love for Ophelia. Polonius' character demonstrates clearly the theme of things not always being as they appear; he can be viewed as a caring and loving person, or a sneaky and deceitful politician. Ophelia's sexual innocence can also be questioned; as can the friendship between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Hamlet.Claudius, the new king of Denmark, allows us to clearly examine the theme of appearances versus reality. Claudius appears to love Hamlet so as to seem a worthy king to the people of Denmark. He does not want Hamlet or the people of Denmark know about his guilty conscience, so he hides it by treating Hamlet with respect and affection. Early on in the play he tells Hamlet that he has confidence in him by revealing to him that he is "the most immediate to our thrown/ And with no less nobility of love" (Hamlet, I.ii.109-10). This is Claudius' attempt to make Hamlet and the people of the court believe that he loves his nephew and his new son. He also requests that Hamlet stay in Denmark, making it appear as though he enjoys Hamlets presence and worries about his well being, "It is most retrograde to our desire: / And we beseech you, bend you to remain / Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye, / Our chiefest courtier, cousin and our son" (Hamlet, I.ii.114-17). He also tries to deceive Hamlet by referring to himself as Hamlet's "loving father" (Hamlet, IV.iii.51). However, the reader and some of the characters in the play know of his true feelings towards Hamlet. When he feels that Hamlet knows of his murderous act, he decides to send Hamlet away with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern so as not to have his position threatened, "And he to England shall along with you" (Hamlet, III.iii.4). Later on, in Claudius' soliloquy, he reveals his plan to have Hamlet killed. His plan involves another person acting on his behalf to kill his son, "Thou may'st coldly set / Our sovereign process; which imports at full, / By letters conjuring to that effect" (Hamlet, IV.iii.63-65). This is so as to again protect his position in Denmark and his position with Gertrude.Claudius' love for Gertrude can also be questioned. In his opening address to the state, it appears as though he sincerely loves Gertrude. He later on lists Gertrude as one of the reasons he killed his brother. This implies that the feelings he had for Gertrude were real. However, when Gertrude goes to drink the poison that was intended for Hamlet, Claudius makes no real attempt to stop her. He simply says, "Gertrude, do not drink" (Hamlet, V.ii.282). Had he...

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