Illusions (The Illusions that exist in Shakespeare's play Hamlet)

Essay by bigwilly2006High School, 11th gradeA+, February 2005

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The play of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, tells the story of a tragedy in Denmark. In the story almost all of the main characters, Polonius, Claudius, and Hamlet, give an appearance of being respectable individuals. When one examines these characters closely, one finds each character reveals a darker and more malignant nature. As characters plot out their own agendas, the reader sees just how much appearance versus reality plays a role in Hamlet.

On first glance, Polonius seems fatherly and warm, but his selfish and distrustful heart shows in his actions. For example, Polonius parallels a politician in the manner in which he takes care of his family. Lecturing Ophelia, Polonius shows her his paternal love and care. Letting Laertes go to Paris, Polonius reveals his fatherly trust in his son. Even though Polonius gives his "blessing season" (1.3.86) to Laertes, the blessing carries no truth, since he sends Reynaldo to "make inquire of his behavior" (2.1.4-5)

or in other words to spy on him. By spying on his son, Polonius shows his selfishness because he wants to know if Laertes dishonors the family name. Yet again showing his selfish nature, Polonius lectures Ophelia on his opinion of Hamlet, which appears fatherly, but he uses her to eavesdrop and spy on Hamlet. Though he loves his children, he loves himself more.

When Claudius kills his brother, King Hamlet, he reveals his black heart similar to the heart of biblical Cain who kills his brother. While Claudius appears as a loving father/uncle to Hamlet, a loving husband to Gertrude, and a proper king, in reality he exists as a deceitful, greedy, murderous king. The evil in Claudius permeates every aspect of his dark life while he tries to appear as "thy loving father" (4.3.59) to Hamlet and the reader.