Claudius lies to the entire state of Denmark by killing King Hamlet.
Analysis: This lie and act of deceit is a secret at the very beginning of the play since Claudius says King Hamlet died because of a snake bite. However, the ghost of the late King Hamlet informs Hamlet, and the audience, about the true cause of the king’s death.
Claudius lies to Gertrude and Hamlet by ordering Hamlet’s death when Hamlet is to go to England.“The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England” (4.3.65)
Analysis: Gertrude and Hamlet were both under the impression that Claudius was sending Hamlet away to protect him from any harm he may face after the murder of Polonius. However, since Claudius was actually sending him away to have him murdered, he lies to both Gertrude and Hamlet.
Hamlet deceives both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when he orders their death in the letter.“He should those bearers put to sudden death/ Not-shriving time allow’d” (5.2.46-47)
Analysis: Hamlet reads the letter by Claudius which demands Hamlet’s death once in England and changes his name to those of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In this act, he is deceiving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by ordering their death in England.
Claudius lies to Gertrude when he teams up with Laertes to develop a plan for Hamlet’s murder. He lies to Gertrude again when she returns to inform them about Ophelia’s death by saying he was calming Laertes down. “How much I had to do to calm his rage/ Now I fear this will give it start again” (4.7.193-194)
Analysis: Gertrude is under the impression Claudius is helping Laertes overcome his grief; however, she is unaware of the fact Claudius is actually plotting Hamlet’s murder. When she returns with the news of Ophelia’s death, Claudius states he fears Laertes’ rage will commence once again.
Hamlet deceives Ophelia when he tells her he does not love and never loved her. “You should not have believ’d me, for virtue cannot/ so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it/ I lov’d you not” (3.1.117-119)
Analysis: Hamlet’s bold statement shocks Ophelia as she states she was deceived. Hamlet admits to his love for Ophelia after hearing of her death; however, it is still debatable whether or not Hamlet truly loved Ophelia.
Hamlet deceives the entire state of Denmark by acting mad so that nobody suspects him for avenging his father’s death. “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself/ As I perchance hereafter think shall meet/ To put antic disposition an on” (1.5.169-171)
Analysis: In this passage Hamlet says to Horatio he states that he will be acting mad shortly in the future. This proves to be true as Hamlet begins to act mad shortly after and is apparent to others he is mad due to his responses. Hamlet is acting mad so that he can kill Claudius without others being suspicious of the murder, blaming the murder on his madness.
Laertes deceives Hamlet by creating a plan to murder him.
Analysis: After hearing about Polonius’ death, Laertes was determined to seek revenge and thus, with the help of Claudius created a plan to kill Hamlet. Even after Hamlet’s apology before the battle, Laertes does not inform Hamlet of the poison on the sword, deceiving him once again.
Polonius deceives Hamlet by using Ophelia’s love to find out the cause of Hamlet’s madness. “Gracious, so please you/ we will bestow ourselves. (to Ophelia) Read on this book/ That show of such an exercise may colour/ Show your lonliness” (3.1.43-46)
Analysis: Polonius instructs Ophelia to converse with Hamlet so that he and Claudius can figure out the reason behind Hamlet’s madness. Polonius wants to determine whether Hamlet’s madness is caused by an affection towards Ophelia. Since Polonius is tricking Hamlet, this is an act of deceit.
The play called The Murder of Gonzago deceives both Gertrude and Claudius it portrays their lives. “For I mine eyes will rivet to his face/ And after we will both our judgments join/ In censure of his seeming” (3.2.87-89)
Analysis: Although the play Hamlet also portrays a character similar to his mother, the play is meant to target Claudius more specifically because Hamlet wishes to determine whether Claudius was actually guilty or if the ghost was just sent by the devil. This is deceit since Hamlet is trapping Claudius and creating a play on the crime he has committed.
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