Hamlet’s World is One of Perplexity and Doubt
The language throughout Hamlet, the tragic play by William Shakespeare, suggests appearance, seeming and pretense. A large part of the play involves acting rather than living, which leads readers to ponder on what is real and what is not. What is – or at least seems to be – real are the events full of violence and passion, such as Claudius’s murder of King Hamlet, the queen’s “incestuous” marriage and the murders in the last act of the play.
Though there were a few “real” moments and actions in the play, most were acted and lay in a sense of pretense.
Claudius killing elder Hamlet displays his true intentions and desires of being in the throne; his selfishness and greediness were enough cause for him to murder his own brother. While this demonstrated something real, his speeches and actions convinced his audience that he was a mourning brother, a loving father, a good husband and a passionate king. In Act I Scene ii, Claudius uses contradictory phrases inconsistently describing his melancholic mourning of his brother’s tragic death and his extreme excitement and joy in being the new king and Gertrude’s new husband: “Though yet of Hamlet our late brother’s death / The memory be green,” “mirth in funeral,” and “dirge in marriage.
” Another unreal event in the play is Hamlet’s madness.
Some critics argue that he indeed was mad, but it is clear in the beginning of the play that Hamlet decided to pretend to be mad in order to gather information and conclude whether or not what the Ghost said was true; he says, “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself / As I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put an antic disposition on.” This shows that he was acting mad, but it is possible that his madness became real throughout the play. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are another example of acting and falsehood in the play because they pretended to be Hamlet’s friends but instead were just spying on him for Claudius. The tragic play was intertwined with events that portrayed the characters true intentions and feelings, yet there were many cases in which characters acted as something they were not and juxtaposed those real events with unreal ones.
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