Deception is an essential element of Shakespearean drama, whether it be tragedy, history, or comedy. The deception can be destructive or benign; it can be practiced on others or, just as likely, self-inflicted. On occasion deception becomes the very foundation of a play, as is the case with Twelfth Night, Othello, and, most notably, Hamlet. The following introduction to the many instances of deception in Hamlet will help you plan your own essay on the broader topic of how this important theme relates to the play on the whole. Hamlet 1) Hamlet's madness is an act of deception, concocted to draw attention away from his suspicious activities as he tries to gather evidence against Claudius.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet has and intricate plot formed by the characters and themes throughout it. One major idea is Hamlet’s changing sanity, which fluctuates through the play as a performance and as a true madness. The other main theme which develops the play is the act of vengeance, with the delay and doubt that accompanies it. These themes, along with dramatic devices and the characters in the plot, add to the textual integrity of the play. There is a duality to the character of Hamlet, as his madness changes from a performance to true insanity throughout the play.
“I am not what I am” (Othello, 1.1.64) What role does deception play in both tragedies studied? Discuss this question focusing Othello as your principal text, and using The Duchess of Malfi and a third text of your choice (as agreed with your teacher) to develop further your points and argument. The significance of the role of deception in Othello and in The Duchess of Malfi is nonpareil to any other theme within the plays. There are different degrees of deception present in both of the plays, the most prominent example within Othello being how Iago manages to deceive Othello and convince him of his innocent wife’s infidelity whilst possessing no evidence. Similarly in The Duchess of Malfi, when the Duchess’ attempt to deceive her brothers and conceal her marriage leads to her death.
Socrates knew that he knew nothing. Othello also infiltrates the minds of the audience on an epistemological level by diverting their attention. In attending to the problem of knowledge, Shakespeare invokes the following questions: is theatre damaging to public welfare? Is it possible to allow for the transition of theatrical knowledge to pass into the public domain? And can the public acquire synthetic knowledge from a play?
In the late 1600s, individuals to be considered 'mad' were thought to have been possessed by the devil or some other evil spirit, and so were mocked and considered dangerous and unapproachable (as suggested by Sir Toby in Act 3 Scene 4 “defy the devil”). In some ways, they weren't even thought of as the same species to conventionally 'normal' people. For this reason, an Elizabethan audience may find the joke to be comfortably within boundaries and possess the acumen necessary to find humour within the text and jokes. Another reason a 17th Century audience could consider the joke to be within the boundaries of comedy is the possibility of Malvolio being an ill-considered puritan to them. A puritan is a religious person who's personally opinionated line between what is wrong and what is right is absolute and solid.
This underlines the thin wall between pretending in real life and acting in a play. When Claudius asks Hamlet if the play has any offense in it Hamlet answers: “No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest.”(lines 256-257) He says that it is just pretending and that they are just actors in a play. During the whole plot of Hamlet, characters use lies, stage situations and manipulate each other to find out truths. They are all acting. In this passage, language is also used to play.
The character of Claudius has been developed in this scene. Previously, the only suspicion cast upon Claudius was by Hamlet and the Ghost, who may not sound very convincing because of the fact that the audience may be convinced that the former is deranged and the latter is a malevolent spirit. However, in Act III Scene I it is Claudius himself who reveals that he has a tainted soul in “Is not more ugly to the ting that helps it/ Than is my deed to my most painted word/ O heavy burden!” the use of the visual imagery “harlot’s cheek” and “beautied with plast’ring art” suggests that Claudius has a dark secret. The use of “painted word” suggests that he is lying and “O heavy burden” goes to show that he is distressed by it. Shakespeare’s characterisation of Ophelia as a tragic heroine takes shape from Act III Scene I.
Madness in Hamlet and King Lear The subject of madness is a major theme in two of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies, “Hamlet” and “King Lear”. In both of these plays, a character feigns insanity to carry out a motive - Hamlet and Edgar respectively. However, while it is made quite clear to the audience that Edgar is only pretending to be a mad beggar (“Whiles I may escape I will preserve myself, and am bethought to take the basest and most poorest shape that ever penury, in contempt of man brought near to beast”), it is somewhat less clear whether Hamlet has crossed the line and lost control of his “antic disposition”. Shakespeare gives evidence which suggests that Hamlet is sane by having three other men also witness the manifestation of the ghost of Hamlet’s father. If Hamlet were to have seen his father’s ghost by himself, there would be a greater argument for him being insane from the outset of the play.
Flaws and Weaknesses Presented in Macbeth In the play Macbeth Shakespeare presents the overspreading influence of evil over the sinister and ambitious minds which lead them to committing the most villainy and valour act; this act does not only lead to victory but it affects man, the state also the state and Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s relationship. Shakespeare also provides the essential morality which encourages their development in order to bring things back to normal. It shows that Shakespeare has illustrated the change of a good person to a ghastly figure. The effect of evil I Lady Macbeth is also closely examined. In Macbeth, Shakespeare transfers the evil from the villains to the hero and the heroine.
Shakespeare's Presentation of Othello as Responsible for his Own Downfall Shakespeare’s Othello consists of the themes betrayal, love and dishonesty. At the centre of this play is the tragic downfall of Othello at the hands of his so called friend Iago. In this essay I will be discussing the reasons for and against Othello being responsible for his downfall through looking at critical interpretations of his character and actions. In some ways you could say that Othello was highly responsible for his own downfall as he was easily manipulated by Iago showing him to be gullible and naïve. Iago manipulates Othello by making him suspicious through inference, “Ha I like not that”.