November 19th 2014
The Downward Spiral of Deceit
We love to believe what people say to us, take everything at face value and not be concerned by lies and manipulation. Sadly, it is rare to hear something that is true, because we live in a world full of deception. Children lie to get out of trouble and people lie to impress others so they can get ahead. According to Jane Austen’s book, Emma, “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.” There is without a doubt no lack of deception in Hamlet; it is in fact, one of the main themes of the play. There is always a trigger, the main deception that causes the downward spiral. We as readers see the results of deception. It has taught us many uses for deception, not all positive. At times deception can be used to protect someone from a truth that will hurt them, be a tool to discover the truth in a situation, as well as protect you from trouble. While these could be intended for ultimate good, they all end in tragedy since nothing really good can come from hiding the truth.
The death of Hamlet’s father is the trigger event, more specifically King Claudius lying and not revealing that he in fact murdered the king. He of course wanted himself to take over as king and obtain Gertrude as a wife. He shows no remorse towards killing his brother while attending his funeral and acts like he had nothing to do with the death. Claudius of course knows that if anyone found out what he did, he would be ruined. So he lied all throughout the play to keep his murder a secret. “In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People." (Eugene V. Debs). King Claudius comes in to almost save the day, he takes over the kingdom to pick up the pieces after the tragic death of his brother. He wants to seem like the perfect king, and most believe him. But behind closed doors he knows he has sinned, even praying, “That cannot be, since I am still possessed Of those effects for which I did the murder: My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.” (Act 3, Scene 3, Pg.3). Although when you do something wrong, covering it up seems to be the best thing, it eats us alive and rests heavy on our souls.
There is a great fear of deception in Laertes, as he is weary of Hamlets love for his sister, Ophelia. "His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own; For he himself is subject to his birth. He may not, as unvalued persons do, Carve for himself, for on his choice depends The safety and health of his whole state," (I:3, ll 17-21). Since Hamlet is of royal blood, he does not have the right to choose who he will marry. It is a courts job to choose who would be the most suitable queen to keep Denmark safe. Hamlet knows this, making any signs of love he gives to be false. Polonius also agrees with Laertes on this idea, and forbids Ophelia from seeing Hamlet. They both feel that they are doing the best thing by protecting her from this deception.
Laertes and Polonius have the best intentions in mind, trying to protect their family by deceiving. Thomas S. Monson says, “The power to lead is the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.” While we think it is best thing to constantly be on the watch for dangerous hurtful situations (especially as parents) we must realize that while we do have all this power over our children, we also can make or break them. And unfortunately in Hamlet, Polonius tries so hard to keep her daughters heart from being broken by someone else, his actions cause his own demise, which causes his daughter to take her own life.
But of all the deception in this play, it is Hamlet who is the most deceiving. He pretends to have gone somewhat mad, thus allowing himself to get closer into a situation that he