"This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man" (Shakespeare 1794). This piece of guidance from Polonius to Laertes will be hard for many of the key players in Hamlet to follow, and will lead to their detriment. Shakespeare uses this advice as a continuous motif that foreshadows what will spread among major players in Hamlet such as: Ophelia, Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes and Hamlet. Many of these characters cause their own self-destruction by following others’ wishes and not being true to their own desires.
Ophelia is a character in Hamlet that is chronically faithful to everyone else but herself. Ophelia is deeply in love with Hamlet, and she is certain that he loves her as well. This is clear from the assertions she makes in Hamlet’s defense: “My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honest fashion. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven” (1795). Ophelia’s downfall emerges when she doubts her own feelings and beliefs about Hamlet, upon instruction and advice from her brother and father. Ophelia, a confident and intelligent woman, begins to rely on others to tell her what to think and how to act. “I do not know, my lord, what I should think” (1795). Upon Polonius request, and going against her own hearts desires, she starts to avoid Hamlet. “No, my good lord, but, as you did command, I did repel his letters and denied his access to me” (1806). By doing what her father advises and wishes Ophelia is no longer capable of making decisions for herself. The loss of Hamlet’s love and the death of her father leave her with confusion and doubts about her future. “Well, God ‘ild you! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be” (1847). By forsaking her own desires and wishes to fulfill the longings of her father and brother, Ophelia’s future for herself is lost and she disconnects from the world around her. In the end, Ophelia sacrifices everything she loves to please the requests of others, in doing so, she loses her mind and the will to live.
Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, all contribute to their own downfall by being blindly loyal to King Claudius. Polonius engrosses himself so much with the affairs of King Claudius’ family, that he neglects his own responsibilities to his kids and his duties as Lord Chamberlain. His fall is his constant nosiness in others’ affairs. Polonius strains to delight the king above all else, and his death is the direct consequence of sticking his nose into somebody else’s concern. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune; thou find’st to be too busy is some danger” (1836). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are so loyal to King Claudius that they never question his requests. They continually spy on Hamlet and then report back to King Claudius on his...