Hamlet The Master Of Deception

1842 words - 7 pages

Deception is defined as a misleading falsehood. One is usually deceitful when there is a need to conceal the truth, or create a scheme to reveal the truth. This statement can be applied to the play Hamlet, where Shakespeare creates a society that is built upon deceit. Each character in the play experiences or enacts on some form of deceit in order to expose the truth or obscure the truth. There are no characters in the play that feel the need to be straightforward and seek the truth. As a result, the characters feel the need to continually be deceitful to cover up their past errors. Shakespeare displays various examples of deceit in the play such as dishonesty, antic disposition and betrayal. Through these forms of deceit, Shakespeare shows that deceit is an error each character makes that result in their downfall. If each character had not been deceitful, and had been straightforward about their problems, the ending of the play may have not been so tragic. The play Hamlet is a guide to show how using deception to seek the truth never prevails; all characters that believed it did were killed as a result of their deception in the end. Shakespeare effectively uses dishonesty, antic disposition, and betrayal which result in the demise of Ophelia, Hamlet and Claudius.
Ophelia is not deceitful when it comes to her own intentions, but the situations she is placed in cause her to become a victim of circumstance. When Ophelia agreed to charm Hamlet and have her father eavesdrop on her conversation, she had betrayed and been dishonest with Hamlet. Even though doing this did not benefit her, it is still a form of betrayal because Hamlet was unaware of what was going on. Hamlet catches on to this scheme and asks Ophelia “Where is your father?”(3.1 130) in hopes of the truth, but Ophelia betrays Hamlet by answering “At home, my lord.” (3.1.131) This is the first deceitful error that Ophelia makes because it results in Hamlet losing his faith in her. Ophelia tries to obscure the truth because she is afraid of disobeying her father. It is obvious that Hamlet is already well aware that Polonius is watching after he states “Let the doors be shut upon him, the he may play the fool nowhere but in’s own house.”(3.1.132-133) Ophelia could have easily told Hamlet the truth, but due to her undying love for her father chooses to deceive Hamlet. Ophelia’s deceit leads Hamlet to start questioning her honest nature. Hamlet begins tearing apart by Ophelia because he is so irritated with her for being insincere to him. He states to Ophelia that “you should not have believed me: for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.” (3.1.117-119) Hamlet states that he does not love Ophelia because he believes that through this scheme, Ophelia will reveal the truth that Polonius is in fact behind their “unplanned” meeting. Ophelia had betrayed Hamlet by lying to him, thus Hamlet felt the need to betray her. If Ophelia had just been...

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