Essay on Loyalty and Betrayal in Hamlet

Words: 1125
Pages: 5

Loyalty and betrayal in Hamlet
Loyalty is a significant theme in ‘Hamlet’ because Hamlet himself judges people by their loyalty or disloyalty-his mother, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Horatio and he acts accordingly. The significance of the betrayal theme is that many of the major events in the play result from the betrayal of one character by another.
The most significant act of betrayal is that of Gertrude-whose marriage to Claudius after two months of widow-hood has such a traumatic effect on Hamlet. He complains that a beast ‘would have mourned longer’. Right from the beginning, even before the ghost appears, Hamlet’s attitude to women in general is coloured by his mother’s disloyalty and betrayal-‘Frailty, thy name is
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Loyalty is a quality greatly valued by Hamlet but it must be loyalty based on truth, justice, integrity and right thinking-not the kind of loyalty practised by Polonius. There is only one person, according to Hamlet, who has seen these qualities and he is Horatio. He is the one who remains steadfast, he is trustworthy-if he says a thing is so, everyone believes hi,. He observes Claudius at the play and confirms his guilt. Out of loyalty to his friend he agrees to stay alive to make the truth known and put things right-‘tell my story’.
Hamlet’s own loyalty never wavers. It is there form the start. He is dressed n black and is still grieving-it irritates and upsets him that his mother should question him about his continuing to be in morning. What is worse-she suggests that he is pretending. ‘Why seems it so particular with thee’? He naturally protests that he is not pretending, the black clothes are but the ‘trappings and the suits of woe’. When he meets the Ghost he is eager at first to carry out his orders to avenge his ‘foul and unnatural murder’. Although his procrastination has dire consequences for nearly everyone in the play, his loyalty and love for his father never falters. It is this which makes him angry with his mother: he cannot understand how she could forget how a good man he was and marry Claudius who was his inferior in every respect. His success