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Hamlets Deception Through the Play

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Throughout the course of history, situations where manipulation is apparent, date back to biblical times, including way back to the tale of Cain and Abel. However, this tactic is very much still in effect during modern times. Humans use this tactic in order to increase strength or authority, while others use it to take advantage of others. Manipulation is frequently repeated in William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet. The protagonist in the work, Hamlet, employs these different occurrences of manipulation throughout the play. Hamlets deception to avenge his father’s death. Secondly, his manipulative behavior towards both Ophelia (Hamlet’s significant other for some time) have a heavy impact on her downfall and death. The role of Hamlet’s manipulative tactics hold an insurmountable impact on the development and progression of the tragedies plot.

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Hamlet’s madness is an act of deceit, concocted as he attempts to gather evidence against Claudius to draw attention away from his suspicious activities. He explains to Horatio his dishonest scheme of pretend insanity, when Hamlet says, “Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself, As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet, To put an antic disposition on, That you, at such times seeing me, never shall, With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake, Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase, As ‘Well, well, we know;’ or ‘We could, and if we would;’”. He attempts to fool the other members of society into believing that he has gone mad and has mental issues, in hopes to provide himself with a justifiable excuse to help aid his indescribable actions, and possibly nullify any sort of punishment coming to his direction. Also, Hamlet’s philosophical hesitation to assassinate Claudius leads many times in the play to self-deception, particularly in his soliloquies. He persuades himself to stop with his plan in his second soliloquy, since his father’s ghost may be fake: “The spirit I have seen, May be a devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape”, and, in his fifth soliloquy he tricks himself into believing he should not kill Claudius in his chamber because he would be admitted into the gates of heaven if killed while praying.

Ophelia has passionate and authentic feelings for Hamlet, but Hamlet abuses Ophelia and selfishly uses her to his advantage. Aside from the fact that Hamlet possibly adored Ophelia at one point in the play, this “adoration” is a strategy he uses in attempts to control her. Due to the conclusion that Hamlet drew that Polonius, Claudius, and Gertrude could be using Ophelia to get information on his erratic behavior, Hamlet manipulates the harsh encounter with Ophelia and treats her with harshness and cruelty. He uses this strategy to demonstrate how he actually is insane and that he is not putting on a show. It is fair to assume that Hamlet is on his worst, most erratic, behavior, while Polonius is in the setting. He knows Polonius speaks with Claudius and Gertrude often, so he feels that he must hide his wild display of erraticness from discovery. He frames the play “The Murder of Gonzago” in such a way that the actors reenact Hamlet’s own father’s murder. “Give him a heedful note For I mine eyes will rivet to his face, And after we will both our judgments join In censure of his seeming”. He wants to see how Claudius reacts and this will assume his innocence.

Without the incorporation of a manipulation tactic spattered throughout the tragedy, the plot of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet would be unrecognizable. The sequence of events that took place would contrast tremendously if Hamlet had not schemed in such a way where he was to pretend to be insane to the point where insanity became a very real aspect of his character and demeanor. The manipulation and development of the characters Ophelia, Polonius, and Hamlet, strongly shape the storyline of Shakespeare’s work. 

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