Hamlet Appearance vs. Reality
Uploaded by MJ23 on Jul 05, 2004
Appearance vs Reality
Possibly the best piece of writing ever done by William Shakespeare, Hamlet, is a classic example of a tragedy. In all tragedies the hero suffers, and usually dies at the end. Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, Brutus falls on his sword, and like them Hamlet dies by getting cut with a poison tipped sword. The theme that remains constant throughout the play is appearance versus reality. Things within the play appear to be true and honest but in reality are polluted with evil. Many of the characters within the play hide behind a mask of dishonesty. Four of the main characters that hid behind this mask are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Polonius, and the king Claudius. From behind this mask they give the impression of a person who is sincere and true, in reality they are overwhelmed with lies and evil.
Hamlet is spied on many times in the play. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two of Hamlets childhood friends who when asked by the king, try to find out what is troubling the young prince. Both help to add to the theme by showing their appearance of being Hamlets friends. The pair goes to Hamlet pretending to be his friends when in truth they are only there because the king asked them to find the truth. Hamlet quickly reveals the truth and says, "Were you not sent for/ And there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft in color." (Shakespeare 2:2:278) From these words he is demanding an answer from his schoolmates as to their unexplained arrival. At the end he tells them nothing. As the play continues his "friends" are asked again by the king to go to Hamlet and try again to find the real reason for Hamlet’s behavior. Hamlet insults them at every chance knowing that they are lying to him about their purpose of the visit, "’Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with you finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth..." (Shakespeare 3:2:348) The twins show their appearance of being Hamlets friends but in truth they have a hidden reason for visiting with Hamlet. Both show that it will be very difficult for Hamlet to uncover the reliability hidden within the lies.
Polonius the king’s royal associate plays an important role in developing appearance. He always wants to keep up the look of loving and caring...