Shakespeare's "Hamlet": Looking at Integrity

Essay by lanternflightHigh School, 12th gradeA+, September 2007

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"This above all, to thine own self be true." Hamlet shows that integrity is the most important personal quality to have in a world in which people are often not what they seem." Discuss.

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is set in a world much like “an unweeded garden”. It is a world full of “treachery”and deceit, so much so that “one may smile, and smile” and still “be a villain”. However, amidst all this corruption, several characters of integrity, such as Hamlet, and his loyal comrade, Horatio, are still able to rise above the other characters in nature, and “be true” to their own selves. Thus, Shakespeare assigns them with honourable ends, unlike the other members of the court, who are condemned with shameful deaths. Yet is integrity the most important personal quality to possess, in order to survive in such a “rotten” society? Through each individual character, Hamlet shows us how the personal quality of integrity is essential to the shaping of each character’s destinies.

Shakespeare tends to give characters the end which they deserve. Even though Hamlet does commit some actions which are questionable, nevertheless, in the end, the play still inevitably sits by the idea that goodness and integrity will ultimately conquer evil, and justice will always be served.

In Hamlet, characters who are portrayed as truly lacking in integrity are punished with shameful death. One such character would be Polonius. Although it is he who tells others “to thine own sel(ves) be true.”, he himself is superficial and devoid of much moral fibre. Hence, it is no wonder that in the end, he is rightfully condemned to a disgraceful death, where he is slain in the midst of his own treachery. Polonius is a character who is devious to all who are around him, including...