Deception In Hamlet Essay

1504 words - 6 pages

In any war, deception is an absolute necessity. Sun Tzu once said, “All war is based on deception.” These “wars” can be between nations, individuals, or even oneself; but they are all based on deception. William Shakespeare shows the use of deception many different times in his plays, in many different ways. Shakespeare’s Hamlet shows that, not only can deception make or break a plan for revenge, but also cause self deception. From Hamlet using deception to appear mad, to using deception to try and stop Hamlet’s plans, Hamlet displays the many uses of deception magnificently. The employment of the art of deception could bring a plan to success, cause a plan to fall apart, and cause the mastermind of the plan to deceive himself and go mad.
Deception is an extremely vital part of revenge. Deception makes people focus on something irrelevant to what is really happening that is not seen. The article titled “Madness” tells that Hamlet takes advantage of this notion. The article says, “It dawns on [Polonius] that Hamlet is not as mad as he is pretending to be” (Madness). This explains that Hamlet only pretends to act insane and that Hamlet acts insane for a reason. Hamlet only acts insane for the purpose of drawing attention away from his plans to gather evidence against his uncle Claudius, the king, and get revenge for the death of his father. One could also use deception to bend situations to his or her will. In the play Hamlet, Hamlet bends a potentially fatal situation to his own will. In the play, Hamlet says, “That on the view and knowing of these contents, Without debatement further, more or less, He should the bearers put to sudden death, Not shriving-time allow’d” (5.2.49-53). Hamlet rewrote a letter that he found, that said he should be put to death, to say to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor antagonists in the play. Hamlet uses deception to prevent his own death in the play. Deception can be an extremely useful technique in plans for revenge if used carefully.
Although these may be the best displays of Hamlet’s use of deception, Hamlet actually starts using deception in act II of the play, as Charles Boyce explains. Shakespeare A to Z by Charles Boyce reads, ”Ophelia reports that Hamlet has come to her and behaved as if he were insane” (234). This is Hamlet’s first attempt to draw attention away from his real plans, and divert attention to his false insanity. Hamlet also confirms at the end of act I of Hamlet that his insanity will, in fact, be false insanity. Hamlet says, “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself” (1.5.174). This proves that Hamlet will only portray himself as insane. Deception can trick even the brightest of minds because what appears to the eye, might not be the reality.
When being deceptive, there is chance that someone will see through the deceit and employ the use of counter-deception, which can cause a plan to fall apart at the hinges. The Shakespearean literature reference, Shakespeare A to Z, explains...

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