Deception In Hamlet

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To Cheat or Not to Cheat? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the act of deceiving to be false to or to cheat. This is done when the truth is being obscured. All throughout Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Hamlet, full of misfortune and fate, conveys to the audience that appearance can be deceptive and everything cannot be taken at face value. When analyzing the disposition of each character, one can see that each is hiding behind a facade and puts on a mask to disguise their true identity. Each individual creates deception by spying, lying, and feigning to each other. Although the characters use their deception to seek out truth, it fails and leads to their own downfall. Amanda Mabillard, a Shakespeare specialist, explains that “deception can be destructive or benign; it can be practiced on others or, just as likely, self-inflicted.” Shakespeare attempts to use deception through Claudius and Hamlet to expose the truth yet proves that it only leads to destruction and demise. Although Hamlet is a major victim in the play, he commits deception as well as every other character. Hamlet’s feigned madness acts as deceit to all of the other prospects in the play. The explanation to Marcellus and Horatio after their encounter with the ghost is the first instance in which Hamlet verbalizes his plan to act mad in the play. Forcing the two men to swear to never tell of his plan, Hamlet states “as I perchance hereafter shall think meet / to put an antic disposition on,”

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