There is a big trust problem between the characters in William Shakespeare’s most famous play, Hamlet. How can you blame them? They are not the most upright and honorable group. In fact, they make Dexter look like a sweetheart.
A couple of these quotes from Hamlet say it all in a nutshell:
GHOST: “Oh, that incestuous beast, that adulterous beast …”
(1.5.9) HAMLET: “Oh villain, villain, smiling, damn villain!”
(1.5.10) POLONIUS: “At that moment I will lose my daughter; then, let us be behind a tapestry”.
(2.2.12) LAERTES: “They killed me precisely with my own betrayal.” (5.2.12)
It seems these guys have some problems to solve. Let’s break it down and take a look at who is doing what to whom:
- Claudius kills the king, Hamlet’s father, takes over the throne, and traps his own brother’s wife while he’s at it.
- Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, betrays her ex-husband the king by jumping into the sack with Claudius immediately after his death.
- Laertes interferes in his sister Ophelia’s love life and demands that she stop trying to get romantically involved with Hamlet.
- Hamlet pretends to be crazy. Sure, he’s only doing it to catch his uncle in a trap, but still, misleading.
- Hamlet plans to kill Claudio.
- Polonius hides behind a curtain to spy on Hamlet. That? Weren’t there closets in this castle?
- Hamlet (thinking it’s Claudius) stabs and kills Polonius (it wouldn’t have been so easy if he was in a closet, we’re just saying),
- Claudius conspires to get Hamlet’s friends to take him to England, where he will be secluded at least for a time.
- Claudio and Laertes plan to kill Hamlet.
- Hamlet, discovering an incriminating letter ordering his own death, decides to serve Rosencrantz and Guildenstern a dose of their own medicine and kills them. (That is an expensive medicine).
- Claudio involuntarily poisons Gertrudis.
- Laertes kills Hamlet.
- Hamlet kills Laertes and Claudio.
- Horatio is caught cheating on the PSAT.
That really is a betrayal and a deception. If this isn’t a FOX reality show in the works, we don’t know what is.
There are many aspects of Shakespeare’s masterpiece that make Hamlet his most performed and most acclaimed endeavor, but you just have to acknowledge the element of duplicity that runs rampant throughout the text. It’s no wonder that virtually everyone ends up in a pool of blood and / or poisoned wine at the end.
Hopefully, the list above will inspire you to come home, tell your mom you love her, hide your silverware, and stop acting so crazy.