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In the light of Hamlet's Act I how does Hamlet establish the theme of appearance and reality?

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Introduction

In the light of Hamlet's Act I how does Hamlet establish the theme of appearance and reality? Hamlet suspects 'something rotten in the state of Denmark', although observers looking towards the court of Denmark would see an entirely different picture. Lies and deception litter the play covering up the true intentions of the characters throughout. At the root of the deception in the play is Hamlet's step-father and king, Claudius. Claudius's first words in the play show on the surface a proud, honest, honourable king, one who speaks with an ease even announcing that the King's death should cause the court to 'bear our hearts in grief,' the statement, considering Hamlets suspicions of Claudius's involvement in the Kings death is filled with hypocrisy and deceit. This blatant lie is deduced by Hamlet when Shakespeare introduces the world of the supernatural into the play through the ghost of the dead King. The ghost suggests to Hamlet that there is a disorder to the universe of a macroscopic scale which is due to Claudius disobeying Gods will. ...read more.

Middle

As the act progresses the council further see Claudius as a respectful man who trusts those around him. Because of this Hamlet finds it increasingly harder to uncover the truth to the Kings subjects about his true nature. Even when Hamlet insults him when offered the crown next in line the King remains concerning displaying to the court that he understands the grief Hamlet is going through and even invites him to stay with the court in Denmark at the Queen's request. To further impress the council and show he is deserving of the honourable position of King, Claudius prevented an attack on Denmark by Fortinbras proving he is not only loving but tactical and worthy of the position. The kings greatest admirer is much like the king in respect to how he wants to appear to others around him, but also similar to the King is the difference to his inner self from this appearance that is put on like a show to the outside world. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although he is pretending to be mad Hamlets' mental state can be called into question due to the recent events that have surrounded him such as his father's mysterious death and the disorder in court which disturbed him as the drinking and partying is considered in his opinion to be morally wrong. The situation with his mother's open sexuality towards his step-father also appears to have a great effect on Hamlet which leads the audience to believe at first he has gone mad until he confesses that it is just an act and he is 'but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.' This confession allows the audience to see that Hamlet knows the difference between illusion and reality and can play the game that the King and his subjects are dangerously playing. This theme is apparent throughout the play even to a point where Claudius uses Hamlet's best friends against him in an attempt to kill him it seems everyone Hamlet comes across is jaded and full of deception or ulterior motives and no-one can be trusted. ...read more.

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