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Essay on The Role of Deception in Hamlet

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The Role of Deception in Hamlet

In the play Hamlet, deception is a major factor in the cause of the deaths of all those who die in the play, including Hamlet himself. The following paragraphs will outline the deception involved in the deaths of various characters including: Polonius, Gertrude, Laertes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Old Hamlet; as well as the downfall of the antagonist and protagonist: Claudius and Hamlet themselves.

Dishonesty is a major factor in the deaths of many characters. "I'll silence me even here. Pray you be round with him." (III, iv, 4-5), is what Polonius says before hiding behind the arras in Gertrude's bedroom, and eavesdropping on Hamlet's conversation with his mother. Much to
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Old Hamlet, as well, was murdered by being stabbed in the back, by his very own brother Claudius. These are just the deaths of minor characters in the play, those who do not play a large role.

The death of Claudius was also a result of deceit, mainly orchestrated by Hamlet.

Here as before, never, so help you mercy,

How strange or odd some'er I bear myself

(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet

To put an antic disposition on), (I, v, 169-172)

is what Hamlet says to Horatio and Marcellus after he talks to the ghost of Old Hamlet. Hamlet is telling them not to mention that he is just pretending to be mad to anybody, which hints that Hamlet does have a plan to put on an antic disposition to fool Claudius and the courtiers. Later on in the play, Hamlet asks the traveling player to put on a show of the play The Murder of Gonzago, which is quite similar to the current situation with Claudius and Old Hamlet. Hamlet says, "We'll ha't to-morrow night. You could for a need study a / speech of some dozen or sixteen lines which I would set down and / insert in't, could you not?" (II, ii, 506-508), when he asks the players if he could add a speech into their performance. This speech makes the plot virtually parallel to the occurrences between Claudius and Hamlet, and Hamlet will see Claudius' reaction to the play in order to determine his guilt. Claudius'
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