First, fear of deception is displayed amongst the many characters of Hamlet.

In the beginning of the play, Hamlet and Horatio encounters the ghost of King Hamlet. When Horatio sees the ghost, although he immediately recognises the ghosts similar appearance to King hamlet, Horatio perceives the ghost as an evil spirit that will coax Hamlet into sinful action as he asks Hamlet, “What if [the ghost] tempt you toward the flood…and there assume some other horrible form, which might deprive your sovereignty of reason and draw you into madness?” (I.iv.69-74)This indicates that Horatio fears the ghost may be a deception and implies that looks can deceive. When hamlet meets the ghost, he also did not trust the ghost completely about Claudius’ murder. This is true because Hamlet feels the need to confirm the truth by arranging a play in Act 3 scene 4, which mocks the murder scene. Aside from Hamlet and Horatio, Laertes and Polonius fear that Hamlet’s love towards Ophelia is an act of deception. Both family members believe that Hamlet is only in lust and that his pledges are only temptations (I.iii.127). As a result of their fear, Laertes and Polonius forbid Ophelia to be with Hamlet. In addition, Claudius worries that Hamlet is deceiving him. The unusual behaviour of Hamlet causes Claudius to suspect Hamlet knowing the case of King Hamlet’s murder. Claudius’ fear is clearly shown when he hires Hamlet’s old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to keep an eye on Hamlet in Act 2 scene 2. Not only does Claudius fear being deceived by others, he fears his own act of deception. The play, Hamlet, revolves around the Elizabethan Era, where a sinner who does not pray for forgiveness will end up in hell. Therefore, in terror of his own deceptive acts of murdering King Hamlet, Claudius prays in Act 3 scene 3, “O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, a brother’s murder…” (III.iii.37-39)

Secondly, Shakespeare presents the nature of deception through the characters’ practice of deceiving. The character, Claudius, obviously deceives everyone about the murder of King Hamlet throughout the entire play. Claudius’ misleading act was essentially revealed when the ghost of Hamlet’s father speaks of Claudius’ crime. Later in the play, the truth was entirely exposed to the readers when Claudius angrily walks away from the play in Act3 scene 2. However, Claudius never directly confessed his wrongdoing to anyone as he only speaks his guilt in isolation (III.iii.37-73). Aside from Claudius’ use of deceit for his own protection and pleasure, Hamlet deceives others by deliberately feigning his madness to take revenge on Claudius. Hamlet reveals to the readers that his deceptive act would conceal his intention of gathering evidence in opposition to Claudius when he tells Horatio:

How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself. so help you mercy. For example. Let me be no assistant for a state” (II.169-176) The play Act 3 scene2 was also a part of Hamlet’s plan. never shall. Polonius deceives Hamlet when he proposes a plan for hamlet to meet Ophelia to prove his theory about Hamlet in love-sickness: “At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him: Be you and I behind an arras then. Mark the encounter: if he love her not And be not from his reason fall'n thereon. well. hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on. perchance. .ii. Polonius deceives Hamlet when he hides behind the drape to eavesdrop Hamlet and Gertrude’s conversation. Polonius secretly arranges Reynardo to spy on Laertes in Paris and report back his observations. we know'” (I. which is used to deceive the people of Elsinore. as before. at such times seeing me.162-166) For the last time. With arms encumber'd thus. or this head-shake. This is because the purpose of the play is not for entertainment but to confirm Claudius’ crime. As 'Well. Also. “…” Another character who uses deceit is Polonius. which leads to a tragic outcome. That you. never.v. His acts of deception are mainly for the purpose of investigation. Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase.“Here. As I.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful