Identity In Hamlet

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Self-Constructed Identities in King Henry IV Part 1 What constitutes identity? Is it what we wear, what we say, how we act, what we think? Authors such as Judith Butler have gone so far as to refer to identity as a “performance” rather than a reality (Butler 519). There is no question that the makeup of one’s identity is complex and often impossible to distill. Difficulty aside, the investigation into identity acts as one of the principal themes in many of English playwright William Shakespeare’s works. He is perhaps best known for delving into identity in Hamlet where the words “To be or not to be? That is the question,” are uttered by the protagonist in a fit of confusion (Hamlet act III sc. 1 ln. 64). Beyond Hamlet, identity also manifests…show more content…
He is a coward who hides beneath the thinly-veiled lies he tells to make himself seem more than a fat slob who squanders his days drinking to excess. It becomes clear to the reader that to Falstaff is far more concerned with having fun through lewd means then he is with embodying qualities that may deem him “better” to others. Despite his shortcomings, though, Falstaff is a man of uncompromising truth in identity. While he would like to convince others that he is something greater than himself, he is not able to do so. Unlike Hal, Falstaff has no choice to be anyone but himself. He is unable to seamlessly navigate his way from identity to identity, and despite his questionable morality, he is illustrative of what it means to be a man with a genuine…show more content…
Ironically enough, Hal’s privilege was bred out of an illusion of power and royalty crafted by his usurping father, the king (Henry IV act III sc. 2 ln. 50-59). It becomes evident that Prince Hal is incredibly confident in his ability to rise to the challenge of juggling multiple identities and is ultimately an actor. Like his father, he goes through life pretending in order to get what he wants. With the exception of his soliloquy, Prince Hal never allows others to see his true

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