How Is Hamlet Selfish

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In order to survive, humans are each born with a certain characteristic: self-preservation. The best way to ensure one’s survival is to make themselves the top priority. This self-centeredness is still prevalent in current society and even more prevalent in literature. One of the best examples of selfish tendencies to protect oneself is in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Every character in the story of the prince of Denmark betrayed their friends and family to save themselves. In an ironic twist of fate, this selfishness and will of survival led to the demise of each character. Two often overlooked characters in Hamlet are extraordinary examples of betrayal for selfish reasons: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had seemed to be Hamlet’s friends, when in reality they were only spying on Hamlet for King Claudius. When confronted about the reasons for their visits, they blatantly lied to Hamlet’s face saying they came “to visit you, my lord, no other occasion.” (2.2.292) They could not risk their friendship with a member of the royal family, but they also felt the need to follow the king’s orders, so the easy thing to do was to lie. One may argue that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern did not want to upset Hamlet when he was in such a poor…show more content…
Claudius betrays just about every character he interacts with. Former King Hamlet is betrayed the most by Claudius, as he murdered his own brother in order to keep the crown. However, to save himself from being found out, he continues to try and murder the only one who knows what he had done, Hamlet. The continued attempts to cover up his murder led to Laertes eventually confessing “The King. The King’s to blame” for the accidental death of Gertrude. (5.2.351) This confession gives Hamlet an excuse to murder Claudius without Claudius being sent to heaven. The obsessive attempts to keep his murderous ways secret was the determinant of his
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