Gowen 1 Kidder Gowen Mrs. Rosa English 12 April 24, 2011 Hamlet Benchmark In Shakespeare’s well known play Hamlet, almost every character commits an act of deception. These self- serving acts of dishonesty cause Hamlet to not be able to trust anyone and then his own “tragic” flaw takes over and he finds himself doubting and mistrusting even himself. Hamlet’s suspicion and mistrust of everyone around him leads to his own suspicion and doubt of himself which leads to bad judgment and ultimately leads to his tragic ending. The first major piece of diception the reader encounters in the play is King Claudius’ lie to everyone about the death of King Hamlet. Hamlet learns this information in Act 1, Scene 5 from the ghost of his father: Now Hamlet, hear. ‘Tis given out that , sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark is by forged process of my death rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown. (1.5.24) Hamlet can’t believe his ears when he hears this news. He asks, “murder?” and screams “My uncle!”. Hamlet is completely shaken by this news, to him it has come out of now where and on top of it this new responsibilty to uphold his father’s request for revenge, is Gowen 2 all very duanting. Hamlet is disgusted by his father and can’t help but to have some of the same feelings for his mother. O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling, damned villian! My tables – meet it is I set it down that one amy smile, and smile, and be a villian; at least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark. So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word. It is ‘Adieu, adieu, remember me. I have sworn’t. (1.5.26) King Claudius’ act of deception leads to Hamlet’s complete distrust of him and the pact of revenge he has made with his father will soon show Hamlet’s weakness. He will doubt himself and he will doubt the ghost. Hamlet will even give Claudius’ a chance to prove himself, and he will give him many chances to escape revenge. After Hamlet learns the truth of his father’s death he looses trust in everyone, except his good friend Horatio who has never proven himself untrustworthy. He was the first to come to Hamlet about the ghost, and was there every step of the way throughout the play. Hamlet consults many of his thoughts with Horatio espcially due to the fact that he doesn’t trust himself completely so he always need a second opinion, an example is the play Hamlet has put on in order, as he puts it to “catch the conscience of the King”. Basically Hamlet looses faith in the apparition, he looses faith in what his own eyes have seen, he doesn’t trust his insticts. He wants a way to test King Claudius and he finds this in the play. The sprit that I have seen May be the devil: and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and Gowen 3 perhaps Out of my weakness and melancholy, As he is very potent with such sprits, Abuses me to damn me: I’ll have grounds More relative than this: the play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King. (2.2.50) After an obvious display of guilt by the King, Hamlet still finds the need to ask Horatio what he thought of it. This shows his obvious mistrust of himself. He the lacks confidence to take inicitive and do what he knows is right. Hamlet looses trust even in those he loves. He feels betrayed by Ophelia, her loyalty to her father is what drove Hamlet to feel this way. In Act 3, Scene 1 the King and Polonius spy on Hamlet and they recruit Ohplelia to help out. Hamlet knows something is fishy right from the start and even asks Ophelia, just to see her reaction, “ Where’s your father?” (3.1.55). She procedes to lie to him giving him even further of a reason not to trust her Hamlet is so hurt by her betrayal that he goes on to say horrible insults just because he can. In the end of the play the reader learns Hamlet’s true feelings for Ophelia he says, “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers/ Could not, with all their quantity of love,/ make up my sum.” (5.1.108) Hamlet claims that he would have done anything for her, even eat a crocodile. These signs of affaction are quite a change from earlier in the play when Hamlet shows Ophelia no sort of compassion at all. Hamlet is constantly finding reasons to delay revenge, another example of this is right after the play. Hamlet has the King in a position to take revenge in the confession booth but doesn’t take it. Hamlet has the proof that the King in truth is guilty of the crime the ghost accused him of and yet, he delay’s the promise he made to his father even further. Hamlet wouldn’t let the king go to heaven after being able to confess his sins Gowen 4 properly while his father was damned. He would instead wait for another opportunity, at least he claims it so. To take him in the purging of his soul, When he is fit and season’d for his passage? No. Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent. (3.3.71) When Hamlet is on his way to the ship that will take him to England he runs into Fortinbras’ Captian. The news he gives of Fortinbras and his army makes Hamlet take a look at his own act of revenge and how it’s not going nearly as well. Now whether it be Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on the event – A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom and ever three parts coward. (4.4.85) Hamlet acknowledges that he has been thinking too much and therefore delaying revenge and he admits himself to be a coward for this, he says that he has thought enough and he is really pushing the limit. He goes to say that he has all the just reason in the world to take revenge and yet he still hasn’t been able to do it. He then finds strength in Fortinbras’ march to Poland and says, “O, from this time forth,/ My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth,” (4.4.86). Supossedly Hamlet has found the inspriation and strength that he needs in order to kill the King and take revenge for his father. Hamlet’s solioque shows how Hamlet can’t do anything on his own because he doesn’t trust himself, he is so indicisive even about life in general. Hamlet needs examples and other peoples opinions in order to get anything done. Gowen 5 In the end, Hamlet, the Queen, Laertes, and the King are all killed by of course an act of deception and ironically and act of diception created by two of the people it killed, Laertes and the King. When Hamlet finds his inspiration from Fortinbras he claims he thinks too much so in return stops thinking a little too much in order to compensate for lost time. He starts misjudging things, an example is how he has Rosecrantz and Guildenstern killed. This act was completely unessisary, It shows has become a little too much blood thirst. Another example, and is what gets him killed, is agreeing to the duel. Hamlet knows he has no reason to trust the King and yet he does. This seems crazy for Hamlet to do after the events of the play. After Hamlet knows the King wants him dead and that he is deceptive and tricky and very willing to kill. It is because Hamlet has ruled out thinking, it’s all insticnts now which is a very risky thing to do and in Hamlet’s case fatal. Hamlet has many flaws that make his path to revenge a very complicated and tragic one. In the beginning of the play and througout most of it Hamlet finds himself thinking too much and having no confidence in his own actions. After he finds inspiration in Fortinbras, Hamlet throws out thinking completely he realizes what hes been doing hasn’t been working therefore something must change. He finds himself working on instinct and often our insticts can lead us astray esecially if we are as unstable as our young Hamlet has proven himself many a time to be. In the end Hamlet does get his revenge but it came with the cost of his life.