These are the burning emotions swirling in Hamlet’s soul as he attempts to come to terms with his father’s death and his mother’s incestuous, illicit marriage. While Hamlet tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered idealism, he consciously embarks on a quest to seek the truth hidden in Elsinore; this in contrast to Claudius’ burning attempts to hide the truth of murder. Deception versus truth; illusion versus reality. Throughout the play Hamlet struggles between them. Hamlet and his sanity can arguably be discussed throughout the play.
Many portions of the play supports his loss of control in his actions, while other parts uphold his ability of dramatic art. There are indications from Hamlet throughout the play of his mind’s well being. Hamlet’s pranking disposition may have caused him in certain times that he was playing a role. Hamlet’s mood swings and Machiavellian manipulations are prevalent throughout the play. He pretends to be insane to everyone, in hope of seeking revenge for his fathers death. This link between vengeance and acting is what Hamlet struggles with throughout the play.
He then swears to kill Claudius when he says, “I should have fatted all the region kites with the slave is off. Bloody, bawdy villain! O vengeance! Why, what an ass I am? ” (Act 2. 2) He makes this big build up of what he should have done and how he will be revenged and shoots it down in the next line. He consistently backs down. Hamlet attempts to account for his failure to take revenge. He can’t decide if he wants to play the role. In the same scene, where Hamlet speaks his soliloquy, he is portraying self criticism throughout. In the lines where he speaks of Hecuba, he is referring to being an actor on a stage.
He goes back and forth with self criticism in this soliloquy. At some point he moves from self criticism to wild words. By having this play, Hamlet feels that he’ll be able to tell if Claudius is guilty by him squirming in his seat. At the end of the soliloquy, he is not sure if the ghost was real, even perhaps that he is the devil who used his power, “to assume a pleasing shape. ” Hamlet seems not to be able to tell the difference between reality and illusion. If he would of followed the ghost’s instructions instead of going back and forth, Claudius would been the causally.
Looking at the other players, most have a Machiavellian disposition. Comparing illusion to reality, all of them have a false sense of both. Claudius, Is quite aware of how appearances may deceive and how you can work or act a role given to you. He pretends he care for Hamlet but is scared of him, almost a hate for him. Polonius couldn’t stick to his advisor role. He tried to convince the king that Hamlet is in love with Ophelia, eventually spies on him and gets killed by Hamlet for being tricky and deceitful. Gertrude, is in her own little world. She is living an illusion.
In Act 1:2, she is unaffected by her new status as the wife of her brother-in-law. She doesn’t realize the incestuous act she has committed. She seams to be in an illusion of her mind. Claudius seems to have brain washed her into this flighty character who does what he says and only trusts him. Every character has a mirror effect. Even Ophelia deceives Hamlet by lying to him. She isn’t as deceitful as the others in the play. Throughout the play, the themes of illusion and falsehood have been prevalent. The entire Danish court is caught in a web of spying, lies, and betrayal. No one speaks their mind or addresses a purpose clearly.