Comparative Essay on the Contrast of Hamlet and Claudius' Masks in William Shakespeare's, Hamlet

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Dana Mangente

Ms. Kuch


10 June 2013

Contrast of Claudius and Hamlet's Masks in William Shakespeare'sHamlet

Is lying and deceiving others worth it to achieve one's goal? People in society often appear to be something they're not in order to fulfill a certain goal. Some people are so used to lying that in the end they up lying to themselves. However the lies that people tell often serve a greater purpose in their intentions. In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, both Claudius and Hamlet exemplify the theme of appearance vs. reality but while Claudius uses his mask to appear genuine, Hamlet uses his mask to extract revenge, making him more effective at wearing it. Claudius' guilty conscience and vengeful intent is revealed through the way his soliloquies show a side of him only the audience gets to see. In addition, Claudius' plans about killing Hamlet are shown through his trust and relationship with both Polonius and Laertes as he tells them his plans secretly.

Overall, Claudius' use of his mask conveys appearance vs. reality through the way Gertrude, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern believe that Claudius is a genuine man. On the other hand, Hamlet's plans about the revenge against Claudius are revealed through the way he is himself to the audience in his soliloquies. Similarly, Hamlet's trust in Horatio further reveals his plans and his overall deceitful character as he confides in Horatio about his secrets and his plans. Overall, Hamlet's use of the mask help him achieve his goal in killing Claudius as his acts of craziness are truly believed by Gertrude and Ophelia. Soliloquies help the audience see a different side of both Claudius and Hamlet as they reveal their inner thoughts and feelings.

Hamlet and Claudius' true intentions are revealed to the audience as it...