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Trickery and Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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Words: 1988 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Nov 20, 2018

Words: 1988|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Nov 20, 2018

Trickery and Deception in Hamlet

Trickery and deception are two devices that are demonstrated frequently throughout the Hamlet universe. First and foremost, Claudius, King Hamlet’s brother, murders King Hamlet to steal the throne of Denmark. Claudius tricked the entire kingdom, and deceived young Hamlet and his mother. Claudius murders the late King Hamlet by pouring poison into his ear while he slept in the castle’s orchard. Claudius proceeds to lie about his true actions to everyone, claims the throne of Denmark, and marries Gertrude, the late king’s widow and mother to young Hamlet. The new king of Denmark realizes his wrongs, but cannot feel sorrow for the atrocities that he has committed. Claudius attempts to speak to God and right his wrongs, but he realizes how much he loves his new life and everything that he has gained after murdering his brother. Claudius is alone when he decides he should speak to God and confess his sins; he decides to pray out loud. The new king proclaims that “My Fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer can serve my turn, “Forgive me my foul murder?” That cannot be, since I am still possessed of those effects for which I did the murder: My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen” (Shakespeare 188). This demonstrates that Claudius has no real feelings of guilt, or remorse, for his actions against his late brother. Claudius believes he murdered his brother out of his own ambition, and has rightfully earned the crown and everything that he has gained through his brother’s death.

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At the same time, Claudius devises a plan to send young Hamlet to his death in England. While Claudius is reaping the spoils of his newfound position on the throne, he is realizing that Hamlet may become a direct threat to his livelihood. The new king slowly realizes that Hamlet is no longer lovesick, and is beginning to find mental clarity. Young Hamlet has also learned of what Claudius has done with the completion of the play, where Claudius was visibly distraught during the reenactment of the murder of the late king of Denmark. Claudius decides to protect himself by sending Hamlet to his death in England. Once again, Hamlet is a victim of Claudius’ trickery; he is completely and utterly unaware that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, childhood friends of young Hamlet, carry the letter ordering his own execution.

Finally, Hamlet, deceiving Claudius and tricking the King of England, finds and rewrites his own execution letter, which now instructs the executioner to put Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to death. On the voyage to England Hamlet’s ship was beset by pirates who were kind to him and returned him to Denmark. Hamlet was able to deceive Claudius by finding the letter calling for his execution, and rewriting so that it called for the execution of those who carried the letter. Hamlet goes on to later tell Horatio that he feels no remorse for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who betrayed him and followed the orders of Claudius.

Additionally, we see the theme of deception mixed with madness. As Hamlet has found a way to insult Polonious indirectly with his words and actions and a possible act of exaggerated stupidity. Though he may be mad he is smart and aware of Polonious’ bad intentions. Within the quote we see Hamlets confidence in bringing attention to the fact that he knows of Polonious’ intentions. Hamlet also wants Guildenstern know that altough he may be crazy at times but he always knows what is going on. We see the theme of uncertainy and lack of action, Hamlets two friends Guildenstern and Rosencratz who were sent to essentially spy on him admit to their orders. We continue to see alot of thought within the characters without any action taking place. A simple task the boys easily admit to. While Hamlet continues his madness through further deception, with saying though he is crazy he is also sane and intelligent.

To reiterate, trickery and deception are two devices which are used commonly throughout Hamlet. This play was written on the foundations of deception and trickery, as the reader can observe throughout many acts in the play. These two devices make up a large portion of the story, and without them the story would not evolve in the way that it does.

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Works Cited

  1. Shakespeare, W. (2003). Hamlet. In The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition (2nd ed., pp. 1505-1577). W. W. Norton & Company.
  2. Bruster, D. (2011). Trickery and deception in Elizabethan drama. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Cairncross, A. (1961). Hamlet and the first revenge tragedy. University of Iowa Press.
  4. Coddon, K. A. (2002). From pastiche to performance: Shakespeare, parody, and cultural illusion in Hamlet. The University of Delaware Press.
  5. Dollimore, J. (1991). Radical tragedy: Religion, ideology, and power in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries (2nd ed.). Duke University Press.
  6. Hattaway, M. (2002). Hamlet: The Cambridge Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Hirschfeld, H. (2011). Hamlet's transformation. Taylor & Francis.
  8. Kennedy, A. (2013). Shakespeare and the idea of the play. Macmillan International Higher Education.
  9. Levin, R. (1974). The question of Hamlet. Oxford University Press.
  10. Orgel, S. (2002). The authentic Shakespeare and the plays attributed to him. Routledge.
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Cite this Essay

Trickery and Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. (2021, November 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/trickery-and-deception-in-hamlet-by-william-shakespeare/
“Trickery and Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare.” GradesFixer, 17 Nov. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/trickery-and-deception-in-hamlet-by-william-shakespeare/
Trickery and Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/trickery-and-deception-in-hamlet-by-william-shakespeare/> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Trickery and Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Nov 17 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/trickery-and-deception-in-hamlet-by-william-shakespeare/
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