In Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s plays, the theme of lies and deception plays a very large part and is very significant. This play shows that lies and deception are two major points of emphasis that have absolutely awful consequences and are able to leave trust and people the closest to us feeling lied to and vulnerable. Shakespeare’s Hamlet shows this in that almost every character lies and practices deception, which ends up both figuratively and literally killing them. Hamlet lied and practiced deception several times which ended up causing his death.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s countless lies and dishonesty towards Hamlet backfire and as a result, they practically kill themselves. Finally, Polonius’ selfish acts of lies and deception also ended up giving him a treacherous, painful death. All-in-all, in this play, characters who deceive, end up facing their own death.Hamlet, the protagonist of the play, as well as the prince of Denmark, performs many deceptive acts that all end up leading to his death both purposefully and accidentally. When Hamlet has a discussion with the ghost who claims to be his father, Old Hamlet, Hamlet’s thoughts are violently thrown around when he finds out the real reason for his father’s death. For Hamlet to find out more information in relation to his father’s death, he feels the best course of action is to act both figuratively and literally insane. His insanity is able to distract both his mother, Queen Gertrude, and step-father, King Claudius, to dig up enough information on Claudius to pin him against the murder of his father.
The reader is able to figure out that he is not actually crazy, and just putting on an act as evident in Act 1, Scene 5, where he exclaims that “I put an antic disposition on.” Not only that, but two acts later, in Act 3, Scene 4, where he says “I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft.” In other words, he will pretend to be insane in order to achieve his goal to not only avenge his father but to prove that Claudius is the killer.
In Act 1, Scene 2, Hamlet says “Oh that is too too sullied, flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the everlasting had not fixed, His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter.” Hamlet is once again in a deep, but fake, state of depression discussing how distraught and upset he is about his father’s death and his mother remarrying. Finally, in Act 3 Scene 2, Hamlet creates a play before the royal audience, including Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius, ironically called “Mousetrap.” The play itself depicted the murder of Duke Gonzago in Vienna by Lucianus. Lucianus would end up pouring poison in Gonzago’s ears and then would marry his wife once dead, almost exactly like Claudius and Old Hamlet. Through the play, Hamlet is able to figure out that Claudius had been the one to kill his father because of the fact that Claudius got up during the play from his disgust. That being said, Hamlet decides not to do anything too rash and takes it slowly before attempting to kill Claudius which ends up backfiring and he loses his life from this slow approach.
Unfortunately, because of Hamlet questioning himself and inability to act on his instinct, his lies and deception resulted in his untimely and tragic death.Another character that uses lying and deceit to their untimely demise, in the end, is Polonius. When Laertes goes to school in Paris, France, Polonius goes against his own son and his blessing he gave him, when he talks with Reynaldo ways to go after him.
This is mainly found in Act 2 Scene 1 where Polonius and Reynaldo explicitly say: “Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,What company, at what expense; and findingBy this encompassment and drift of question That they do know my son, come you more nearer Than your particular demands will touch it:Take you, as ’twere, some distant knowledge of him;As thus, ‘I know his father and his friends, And in part him: ‘ do you mark this, Reynaldo? ” In this specific example, Polonius is discussing with Reynaldo how to spy on his son and make sure to spy on his every action so Polonius knows Laertes’ whereabouts. Not only that, but Polonius uses his own daughter and deceives her for the benefit of Claudius. Polonius makes Ophelia believe she is meeting Hamlet by accident to determine whether his baseless behavior is from his deep love for Ophelia. Not only that, but Polonius makes sure she is reading a prayer book so Hamlet has no suspicion that they are being spied on and that she is only praying and meditating in private. From this whole encounter, it is evident that Polonius has no legitimate care for anyone except himself and will do whatever he can to get ahead of the competition. What ends up finally leading to his own death, however, is his act of spying on Hamlet and his mother, Gertrude.
That being said, this time his lying and trying to get ahead from the competition as just discussed, costs him his life as Hamlet believes he is Claudius behind the curtain and he is stabbed with a sword.Finally, and possibly the most ironic death of the play are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s childhood friends. When they are first introduced in Act 2, Scene 2, Hamlet asks who sent them to him and they reply with “To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.” In actuality, the two of them were sent by King Claudius and the Queen to actually discover his disorder and bad temperament as evident after the play Hamlet created for the royal audience, “Mousetrap.” Rosencrantz approaches Hamlet after Claudius walks out and says Hamlet should tell his griefs to his friend” Hamlet replies, angered by the awful deception Rosencrantz just tried on Hamlet by saying in Act 3, Scene 2,”Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery…”Furthermore, when Hamlet finds out about the letter from the King of England to have him killed, he steals the letter and says to kill the “bearers of this note.” They ended up dying because of their dishonesty and disloyalty to their long-lasting friend, Hamlet, just for a good exchange in their services from King Claudius.
Throughout this play, it is very clearly evident that lying and deceiving throughout your life can lead to disastrous consequences. Shakespeare shows his opinion on lies and deception by showing it is not beneficial to ever lie and deceive as it will always end to death. It is shown countless times that deception is not the best way to complete a goal in Hamlet, Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern’s cases. All-in-all Shakespeare’s Hamlet shows that our actions create unintended consequences in our lives, and in this situation almost always death.