Appearance vs Reality in Hamlet

Appearance vs Reality

Possibly the best piece of writing ever done by William Shakespeare, Hamlet, is a classic example of a tragedy. The theme that remains constant throughout the play is appearance versus reality. Things within the play appear to be true and honest but in reality are polluted with evil. Many of the characters within the play hide behind a mask of dishonesty. Four of the main characters that hide behind this mask are Polonius, the king Claudius, and Hamlet the protagonist. From behind this mask they give the impression of a person who is sincere and true, in reality they are overwhelmed with lies and evil.

Polonius the king’s royal associate plays an important role in developing appearance. He always wants to keep up the look of loving and caring person. Polonius appears like a man who loves and cares about his son, Laertes. He speaks to him with advice that sounds sincere but in reality it is not. It is hollow and without feeling. Polonius gives his advice only to appear to be the loving and caring father. His advice to his son is full of superficiality, but at the end of his long advice, Polonius tells Laertes to stay true to himself. His advice ends up being ironical and paradoxical. Polonius expresses his two-faced personality by ordering Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet. He lies to her by telling her that Hamlet does not love her, he only wants to have fun with her. However, in truth Hamlet does love Ophelia. Through the play, Polonius pretends to be honest and loving parent. In reality, he lies and manipulates people.

Claudius is the current King of Denmark. During this play, he makes many impressions that differ from the truth. Claudius becomes King of Denmark after killing his brother and marrying his brother’s widow, Gertrude. He speaks well of the King Hamlet by showing a general love for him and all his subjects. In reality he cares little for the old king, he just gives the image of loving brother. Next thing Claudius does is...