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Hamlet Essay

1045 words - 4 pages

Spying: An Act of Destructiveness In William Shakespeare?s Hamlet, one of the main themes that continue throughout the play is spying. Spying forms a functional part in Hamlet, as it communicates character?s feelings through the reports of the spies. It is also an indication of the times and frailty of Denmark. In Hamlet?s time and home country, people functioned through the use of complicated spying networks. This seems to have had destructive effects on the lives of most of the characters, but especially on Hamlet. Claudius and Polonius also participate in the act of spying, but it only becomes fatal for Polonius. Although Claudius does die, it is not directly from spying. Spying, whether it hurts someone or not, is a destructive act.The first incidence of spying occurs when Claudius finds that Fortinbras is making advances on Denmark. He sends spies to Norway to inform the King of Fortinbras actions. This exemplifies how spying is a common occurrence of the times, used not to hurt people but to inform them. This is the only instance where spying does not directly hurt anybody. After Hamlet?s father dies, Hamlet returns to find that his mother has hastily and disloyally married his uncle. After his suspicions of foul play are confirmed, Hamlet makes a plan to feign madness as he is constantly being spied on. Claudius employs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to discover the cause of Hamlet?s madness. Eventually, their orders from Claudius are changed to escort Hamlet to England where he is to be killed. Hamlet finds out about these instructions and changes them so that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are killed. Claudius, with the help of Polonius, spies on Hamlet while he has a conversation with Ophelia. The king wants to see if Ophelia is really the cause of Hamlet?s madness. After Claudius listens to the conversation he says, ?Love? his affections do not that way tend? Was not like madness. There?s something in his soul o?er which his melancholy sits on brood? Will be some danger?Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England? (Hamlet 3.1. 172-179). Claudius, along with Polonius, spy on Hamlet.Polonius?s main activity is spying. He instructs his servant Reynaldo to spy on Laertes and to report back on his behavior. Polonius wants to know everything about his son and his ??drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling, Drabbing?? (2.1. 27-28). He wants to make sure that his son is keeping their good name in France. He tells Reynaldo that ?By indirections find directions out.? (2.1. 61-63), which means that only by wrong doing will he find out the truth. Polonius also plans a meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia to see what is the cause of Hamlet?s discomfort. He plans to listen in on the conversation. He says that he and Claudius will ?be behind an arras? Mark the encounter. If he love her not, And be not from his reason fall?n thereon?? (2.2. 179-183). Polonius decides to help Claudius by spying on a private discussion between Gertrude and Hamlet in her...

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