Hamlet Theme of Appearance vs. Reality

961 WordsMay 1, 20054 Pages
Shakespeare examines the theme of appearance and reality in his book-Hamlet. The dilemma of what is "real" is established at the very beginning of the play. Hamlet doesn't know what to believe and devises a plan to find out. The old king Hamlet appears to be bitten by a snake, but in reality he was poisoned, the ghost appears as an apparition, but it's actually real, and the play-with-in-a-play strongly depicts the theme of appearance vs. reality. The dead King appears to have been bitten by a snake. In reality, he has been poisoned. Everyone believes that the king died from snakebite, but once Hamlet knows the truth he is unsettled by the revelation. When Hamlet's dead father directs his son to, "Avenge him of his foul and most…show more content…
Hamlet, as director of this great deception on stage, cautions the players not to exaggerate their expressions and emotions, stating that only uncivilized "groundlings" (3.2. 10-11) are impressed by excessive over-acting. In Act II, Scene 2, Hamlet had asked the players to give a passionate presentation of the killing of Priam by Pyrrhus. Now he specifically instructs the players to "beget a temperance" in the "whirlwind of passion" in order to give it "smoothness" (3.2. 1-9). He tells them that the aim of the play is to hold "the mirror up to nature,"(3.2. 23-25) saying that the representation of action should be a realistic reflection of life, with moderation as the keynote (3.2. 1-45). Hamlet's advice to the players is important, because it reveals his state of mind before the staging of the play indicating that Hamlet's own mind has finally reached a reasoned balance. In summary, the theme of appearance vs. reality is so well developed that everything in the play must be questioned, for nothing appears certain. Hamlet doesn't know who is telling the truth because of the appearance of some things. Hamlet lives in a reality that appears to be true, but appearances can be deceiving. Hamlet learned that reality is completely different from appearance. The old king Hamlet appears to be bitten by a snake, but in reality he was poisoned,
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