Appearance Vs. Reality
At any given stage in a human’s life; one must lie, deceive, or simply hide emotions to further themselves toward a goal or protect an individual’s interests. Hamlet, a tragedy by William Shakespeare is by no means different, except for the fact that every lie and underlying truth is multiplied in severity tenfold. Virtually every central character in the play is guilty of this act on one or more occasions. This is simple to see at times, however the audience is often found questioning to themselves if aspects of the play are in fact truth in Hamlet’s universe or if they just appear that way. This presents the theme of appearance versus reality, the struggle between the truth, and what falsely appears as such. In order for the main forces in the play to achieve goals or preserve order, they must all hide behind masks of false reality. Main characters who display this often include Polonius, Claudius, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, and of course Hamlet. What we see throughout the play and primarily at the final scene is the unveiling of everyone’s true motives, removing these masks and ultimately resulting in each four character’s demise, which makes this a true tragedy.
Polonius, the trusted councillor to the king, appears to be a good man, and a trusting and caring father, to both Laertes and Ophelia. To Laertes upon his preparation to leave for college, Polonius gives his blessing:
“To thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day
Though canst not the false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee.”
(Act 1, scene 3, lines 78-81).
However, once Laertes has left, Polonius sends out a spy on his son, because he does not trust him, despite his prior blessing. To Ophelia, he says he wants her to break off her relationship with Hamlet. He says he is worried for her, and that he does not trust the prince, when he is, in reality, using the lost love of Hamlet, and the resulting madness, as a way to get...