Appearance vs. Reality in Hamlet

1000 Words4 Pages
There is a general understanding that appearances can be deceiving. This is one of the most fundamental questions in philosophy, appearance vs. reality. When we meet people and get to know them throughout our lives, we soon discover that there is a genuine side to everyone behind the appearance they show. In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the characters Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Claudius use appearance vs. reality to manipulate and deceive, which ultimately leads to their downfall. Polonius is a prime example of one who deceives, which ends in their downfall. In Act 2 Scene 2, Polonius has a discussion with Claudius, where they say "What do you think of me?" "As a man most faithful and honorable." "I would fain…show more content…
36-38). King Claudius appears to be an honest, noble king, but in reality he is King Hamlet's murderer and a manipulative ruler. Near the end of the play, Claudius manipulates Laertes into a duel with Hamlet, so that he can murder Hamlet without suspicion when he says, "But you content to lend your patience to us,/And we shall jointly labor with your soul/To give it due content.". (4.7. ) This shows that Claudius is openly offering a chance for Laertes to seek revenge upon Hamlet for killing Polonius. Later on, Claudius also lays out the plan to murder Hamlet, when he says To thine own peace. If he be now returned, As checking at his voyage, and that he means No more to undertake it, I will work him To an exploit, now ripe in my devise, Under the which he shall not choose but fall. And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe, But even his mother shall uncharge the practice And call it accident. (4.7. 58-66) As Claudius is appearing to be the honorable judge of this duel, in reality he is the mastermind behind the whole thing. The plan to use the poisoned sword and the poisoned wine is the perfect example at how Claudius deceives and manipulates, which ends up in his death at the end of the play. Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Claudius all had their own good reasons for putting up a false appearance. We can see that all these characters have died for it, one way or another. In the play
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