Characters may possess both the ability to intrigue whilst maintaining a commonplace and dry persona, essentially, Hamlet attains the ability to break from his compulsion to abject based on the inept character(s) of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In retrospect, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the same person as they are sparsely differentiated and never are they seen apart from one another—thus the question remains as to why Shakespeare created such characters based on the same superficial mould. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern prove to be a clever satire of the capacity for human conformity, and of course the entirety of their characters is summed upon their agreement to spy on Hamlet for King Claudius. Therein is revealed the essential flaw of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, their otherwise ‘pack’-mentality.
There are those in the villages that protest, but there are always those who have something against their rulers even in the best of times. In the end Claudius gets what is his when Hamlet stabs him with the poisoned blade and forces him to drink the poison that was meant for him but drank by his mother.
In this way, the two courtiers are nothing more than puppets for Claudius to use. Hamlet recognizes this inability to act as good friends and confronts them in the The Mousetrap scene. He discloses, “You would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass.” (3.2) Hamlet is cognisant of the true intentions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern which are not honest at all, but rather, corrupted. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, at this point in the play, have utterly lost their ties to Hamlet as a friend, and only see him as a puzzle that if deciphered, they can return and be praised by Claudius. According to Prof. McKinney, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are like sponges to be soaked up and drained by Claudius and discarded when they are of no more use. Claudius has manipulated the minds of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by way of desire for royal appeasement, and corrupts their ability to frankly help their childhood friend, Hamlet.
This, in turn, exploits Hamlet’s similar flaw of ego and furthers the conflict, but what’s more, it illustrates Claudius’ sheer audacity and lack of repentance. He continues to try to cover up the sin and appease Hamlet into complacency rather than confess and ask for forgiveness. In a mark of pure arrogance, Claudius tells Hamlet to “throw to earth / This unprevailing woe and think of us / As of a father”, conceitedly requesting that Hamlet merely forget the murder and replace his father with the murderer himself (I, ii, 110-112). Similarly, instead of directly confronting Hamlet about his mental condition, the king more or less hires Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on the prince, again cementing his smug mindset. The king does not believe he can be caught or, rather, that Hamlet is competent enough to figure out his plan and foil him. Claudius, too, thinks only of himself after Hamlet’s inadvertent killing of Polonius, pondering “how shall this bloody deed be answered? / It will be laid to us” instead of considering the ramifications of the murder with respect to Hamlet (4.1.17-18). The other two paper-thin traps the king hatches only reinforce his failure to see beyond the apparent; his attempt to deport Hamlet to England and have him killed reeks of treachery and, luckily, Hamlet realizes the king’s subterfuge, crushing the plot and flipping it back on him. Claudius remains steadfast in his efforts to remove Hamlet, going so far as to set up a
Polonius played a vital role in Hamlet even though he was not one of the main characters. He continued to reinforce the theme of corruption and displayed the social and ethical collapse of Denmark. His deceitful actions show the reader that he is one of dishonesty and chicanery. In the play, Polonius was portrayed as someone who is a deceiver and pretender that betrays people he is supposed to be devoted to; and who only cares about things that will benefit him. These characteristics of Polonius are seen through his interactions with Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes, Reynaldo and the King.
Lies and deception are some of the many actions that have disastrous consequences. For the most part, they destroy trust and leave the people closest to us feeling vulnerable. In Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's many plays, the theme of lies and deception is very significant. This play shows that every character that lies and practices the act of deception is ultimately punished for doing so by their treacherous deaths. Hamlet has lied and practiced deception several times which has prolonged his primary goal and also causes his death. Additionally, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s unskilled acts of dishonesty and disloyalty towards Hamlet have all backfired; as a
Claudius is not the only fraudulent character in the first two scenes where the theme of appearance verses reality is prevalent. When Hamlet’s mother tries to get Hamlet to accept the fact that all things in nature die she asks him, “If it be, Why seems it so particular to thee?” (I, II, 79) Hamlet responds with, “ “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is I know not “seems.” ” (I, II, 79) Hamlet accepts the fact that all things in nature eventually die, yet he refuses to believe the appearance of how his father dies. The queen is again applied to this theme when she addresses Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet:
In this speech commemorating King Hamlet’s death, Claudius plays the part of the mournful brother for the audience. This display of feigned emotion is the first notable occurrence of deception within the play as we soon learn Claudius himself killed his brother. Claudius’s true colours reemerge frequently throughout the play. One case of this is when Claudius attempts to pray for redemption from his crime of fratricide.
The effect of this was that it allowed the emphasis of the contrast between truth and pretence, reality and illusion. The plays and fictions of Hamlet fit inside one another until the boundaries between reality and illusion become incredibly blurred. The major themes that therefore arise from this blurring are the conflicts between truth and illusion, honesty and pretence, reality and appearance and the boundaries between youth and age, audience and actor, and most importantly the inescapable boundary between death and life. The play itself constantly hovers between reality and pretence, and at the zenith of its dramatic tension; during the performance of The murder of Gonzago, the boundaries of identity between Gertrude and the Player Queen and Claudius and the Player King creates the merging of pretence and reality, momentarily, into one confused
Claudius also seems like a respectable king because he mourns the death of King Hamlet and tells “[the] whole kingdom to be contracted in one brow of woe” (21). Although Claudius seems to be a good king who is deeply saddened by the death of the late King Hamlet, he is actually a horrible man who murdered King Hamlet in a way “most foul,...strange and unnatural” (57). He took his crown and acted as if his death was an accident. Claudius makes it difficult for Hamlet to uncover the truth behind his actions because he constantly acts like nothing is ever wrong. After many different plots against Claudius, Hamlet prevails and the real Claudius is exposed. Claudius played an important role in the play because he reinforced the motif Seems Versus Is and showed the reader that although people can come across as honest and respectable, deep down they can have an evil side.
Specifically, in Act five, scene two, the chain of events is all due to Claudius aiming to murder his nephew. By poisoning
Another thing that sets Hamlet over the edge is the fake friendship Rosencrantz and Guildenstern commence with Hamlet. King Claudius invites Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to the palace with selfish intentions. Claudius requests the men to investigate Hamlet by “get[ing] from him why he puts on this confusion, Grating so harshly all his days of quiet” (III.i.2-3). He wants them to figure out why he’s acting so dazed and confused, as well as ruining his own peace and quiet, while all along Hamlet is well aware of their true endeavors. During their attempts Hamlets says, “Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me” (III.ii.340-341). Hamlet compares deception to playing a musical instrument by making the comparison that his friends think that it is easier to manipulate him than an
King Claudius uses this to his advantage. Knowing that Hamlet is out to take his life he encourages Laertes to seek vengeance for his father’s death. Hamlet challenges Polonius to a sword fight despite Polonius’s reputation for being a great swordsman. This dual would be the end of the two young men. The deaths of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz was plotted by Hamlet himself. This act of plotted killing just shows how heartless a killer he has become because these two individuals did not have to die and Hamlet had no real reason for getting them killed.
Secondly, due to his corruptive nature, Claudius manipulates everyone in the play as noted by Mabillard (n.p). It is evident from the start that Claudius symbolizes what is rotten in Denmark. For instance, when the ghost talks to his son prince Hamlet, he refers Claudius as “that incestuous, that adulterate beast” (1.5). Claudius commits fratricide and marries the Queen who is his brother’s wife in an arrangement that is incestuous. Due to his corrupt nature, Claudius manipulates everyone in the play. He manipulates Polonius so that he can have Ophelia converse with Hamlet as his old friends Guildenstern and Rosencrantz spy on Hamlet. In Act five, Claudius fails to alert Gertrude that the cup she is drinking from contains poison which he had planned to use to kill Hamlet. As a result of his corrupt nature, King Claudius turns a victim of his own evil by swallowing his own poison.
Claudius is a coward when it comes to murder. Claudius finds the most indirect way to kill someone: usually with poison. The King also manages to get Laertes to be the one to fatally injured Hamlet– showing hs manipulative tendencies. “Thou art slain./ No med’cine in the world can do thee good./ In thee there is not half an hour’s life./ The treacherous instrument is in the thy hand,/ Unbated and envenomed… The King, the King is to blame” (5.2.344-51). Here, Laertes is explaining that the king poisoned his fencing sword so he could impart the fatal blow on to Hamlet. It is not Claudius that takes the credit; Hamlet has to find out from Laertes that he is dying. Even as Hamlet is dying, Claudius still chooses to remain a coward. As the antagonist, Claudius is meant to embody evil, condemnable traits that make readers hate him. Shakespeare is