Hamlet -Appearance vs. RealityHamlet one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays,where the young prince of Denmark must uncover the truth about his fathersdeath. Hamlet a play that tells the story of a young prince who’s fatherrecently died.
Hamlets uncle Claudius marries his mother the queen andtakes the throne. As the play is told Hamlet finds out his father was murderedby the recently crowned king. The theme that remains constant throughoutthe play is appearance versus reality. Things within the play appear tobe true and honest but in reality are infested with evil. Many of the characterswithin the play hide behind a mask of falseness. Four of the main charactersthat hid behind this mask are Polonius, Rosencrantz (Guildenstern), theking Cluadius. From behind this mask they give the impression of a personwho is sincere and genuine, in reality they are plagued with lies and evil.There appearance will make it very difficult for Hamlet to uncover thetruth, the characters hide behind.
Polonius the kings royal assistant hasa preoccupation with appearance. He always wants to keep up the appearanceof loving and caring person. Polonius appears like a man who loves andcares about his son, Laertes.
Polonius speaks to his son with advice thatsounds sincere but in reality it is rehearsed, hollow and without feeling.Polonius gives his advice only to appear to be the loving caring father.The reality is he only speaks to appear sincere as a politician, to lookgood rather then actually be good: “And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the nightthe day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell; my blessingseason this in thee!” Act 1Polonius gives his son Laertes his blessingto go away, he sends a spy to follow him and keep an eye on him. This showshis lack of trust for anyone, he gives the appearance of a confident fatherwho trusts his son to go off on his own. In reality he lies about his trustfor his son by sending a spy to watch him.
His advice he gives his sonis rehearsed and only said to give the appearance of a loving father. Poloniusfurther adds to the theme appearance verses reality by ordering Opheliato stop seeing Hamlet. He lies to her telling her that Hamlet does notlove her, he only lusts for her, in truth he does love her: Ay, springesto catch woodcocks. I do know, When the blood burns , how prodigal thesoul Through the play Polonius hids behind his mask appearing to be honestloving parent. In reality Polonius lies, manipulates people and eavesdropson peoples conversation.
Polonius helps contribute to the theme appearanceverses reality by showing how his appearance is not his true nature, behindthe mask there lies someone totally different.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two ofHamlets childhood friends who when asked by the king, try to find out whatis troubling the young prince. Both help to contribute to the theme byshowing there appearance of being Hamlets friends. The pair go to Hamletpretending to be his friends when in truth they are only there becausethe king asked them to find the truth. There is some irony within the twins,they are asked by the king to find out the truth by hiding within a lie,by pretending to be his friend: A dream is but a shadow Act II.Hamlet knows there purpose for their visitis to dig into his soul to find the real reason for his actions as of late.As the play continues the twins are asked again by the king to go to Hamletand try again to find the real reason for Hamlets behavior.
Hamlet insultsthem at every chance knowing they are lying to him about there purposeof the visit: Tis as easy as lying; govern these ventages with you fingerand thumb, give it breath with your mouth…Act IIIAs the melodrama continues Hamlet goeswith the twins to reclaim money that another state owes Denmark. Hamletis sent by the king to retrieve the assets.
In actuality Hamlet is sentoff to wither because the king, Claudius knows that Hamlet knows too muchand must be killed. The twins show there appearance of being Hamlets friendsbut in truth they have a hidden reason for visiting with Hamlet. Both showthat it will be very difficult for Hamlet to uncover the fidelity hiddenwithin the lies.Claudius the king of Denmark conduct incouncil gives him the appearance of an Honest and honorable man. In Actone scene two Claudius in the presence of council shows his true skilland ease of manner at speaking. Claudius speaks well of the spent kingby showing a general love for him by all his subjects. Claudius show respectfor the old sovereign by speaking kind words of him. In reality he careslittle for the old king, he speaks kindly only to give the appearance ofloving brother.
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’sdeath The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts ingrief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe Act IAs Claudius sends Voltimand and Corneliusoff to give the king of Norway the message of Fortibras, he thanks andgives them complete trust, in the deliverance of the notation. This showshis trust and caring for his subjects in front of the council, wining evenmore consent from the council: We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.Act I Claudius increases his appearance of a honest and honorable man,in front of the council by showing his respect for Polonius. He gives himthe power to let his son Laertes stay or leave for Norway. Claudius speakshighly of Polonius giving him thanks and saying the he was responsiblefor Claudius becoming king:The head is not more native to theheart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth, Than is thethrone of Denmark to thy father. What woudlst thou have, Laertes(Act I ii, 47-50)This council would see this as a man whogreatly respects his subjects and cares for them. This adds to the difficultyof uncovering the truth for Hamlet later.
Hamlet enters the council chamberand speaks with Claudius. The king (Claudius) speaks with Hamlet seemingto be concerned with Hamlet. He gives advice that over grieveing is nothealthy, this shows a concern for Hamlets well being. This conduct of Claudiusgives him the appearance of being kind in front of council that acceptshim even more for his family values: How is it that the clouds still hangon you? Act I Claudius appears to be even more caring when insulted byHamlet he still shows love and general care for Hamlet. A normal king wouldhave become angry and Hamlet would have gotten into trouble.
Claudius showsthe council that he is understanding of Hamlet’s grief over his father:A little more than kin, and less than kind. Act I . Claudius gives Hamletadvice that over grieveing can be harmful and not healthy. Claudius tellsHamlet that he is a admirable person for grieveing for so long over hisdads death. Yet again Claudius keeps putting on the appearance of the honorableman.Tis sweet and commendable in yournature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father:But, you must know, you father lost a father; That father lost, losthis; and the survivor bound In filial obligation for some termTo do obsequious sorrow; but to persever In obstinate condolementis a course Act IClaudius further makes it difficult touncover the truth by announcing that Hamlet is next in line for the throneof Denmark.
This shows that Claudius would let Hamlet become the next kingwhen he is gone. This reveals a love and care for Hamlet to the counciland Gertrude making Claudius appear to be kind, loving person: You arethe most immediate to our throne; And with no less nobility of love ActIClaudius final conduct that makes him adifficult truth to uncover, is his care and want that Hamlet remain inDenmark. Claudius is insulted by Hamlet, he asks Hamlet to stay only thathis queen Gertrude wants Hamlet to stay. Claudius appears to be concernedwith Hamlets well being, Gertrude and council see this ,making Claudiusa more deserving person to be king.As Claudius speaks in council he givesthe appearance of someone who is a deserving person that should be king.Claudius is voted in as king meaning he is already approved by everyone.Claudius gives respect to his subjects giving the council the impressionthat he respects them. The king shows general concern for Hamlet, his nephew.
This will make it very difficult to prove the truth about Claudius in thefuture for he has not only, one the love and respect of council (that votedhim in). But also has prevented a attack on Denmark (from Fortinbras) provingthat he is good king that can protect the state from harm. Claudius makesit very difficult for Hamlet to uncover the truth about the true natureof Claudius in the future.
Through the characters within the playall help to show the theme, that being appearance verses reality. Polonius,Rosencrantz (Guildenstern) and the king all appear to be good and honest.As Hamlet finds out, all contain lies and have hidden intentions withinthem. As each character is presented in the play all appear to be goodand honest making it a difficult task for Hamlet to uncover the hiddentruth about the nature of each character. As Hamlet best said it somethingsis rotten in Denmark That being the lies which have replaced or coveredthe true state of each character.