Betrayla and Self Betrayal in Hamlet
One on the many recurring themes In Shakespeare Hamlet Is that of betrayal; In fact, it is less of a theme and more of a sociopath vocation for many of the characters! If drawn as a schematic the betrayals are a veritable labyrinth of double- crossings, falsehood and moral dereliction that pervade the play almost from the opening act. Claudia initiates it all by betraying his brother and murdering him, Polonium betrays his daughters trust by using her as bait to sound out Hamlet, Reactants and Guilelessness betray Hamlet by reporting his actions to Claudia,
Gertrude betrays Claudia In agreeing to plot with Hamlet against him and the list goes only I found but a few of these betrayals complex and interesting enough to write about and I chose them for their ability to offer a deferent view as well as reveal a few embedded ironies in the play. In the beginning of the play we find a mournful Hamlet brooding over his mother Gertrude betrayal of his father’s memory and the love they shared.
The fact that she married his uncle rankles him even more, as he sees her as having also betrayed the law and ‘acceptable social norms’ or codes of moral ethics by marrying ‘Incestuously. Edwards describes this as ‘the undermining of an ideal of the person enshrined in antiquity and law. ” (Page 42 – Hamlet Prince of Denmark by Shakespeare. Editor Philip Edwards. Cambridge Press updated Edition. 2006 and further mentioned in Exploring Shakespeare. Study guide for ENNUI-N. Editor Michael Williams.
Contributor: Ivan Arbitration ) Gertrude betrayal is elevated to unbearable levels of vileness after the visit by the Ghost of King Hamlet; when Hamlet realizes that his mother not only married his father’s killer (albeit that she was unaware of this at the time), but she also had an affair with him during the arraign. The affront to Hamlet is on many levels. Firstly, his personal horror at her betrayal (the affair) of someone he loves and admires above any other, in favor of a morally corrupt psychopath who is capable of killing his own brother (here his personal fealty and loyalty to his father is shown).
Secondly his outrage at her betrayal of the inviolable laws of marriage (here we see the moral and principled character of Hamlet). Hamlet Is further tortured by Gertrude betrayal of his father’s own good opinion of her; the ghost of King Hamlet conveys in words and lamentation he wretchedness he feels in the betrayal of this perfect idealistic vision he had of his wife and their marriage. He calls Gertrude, “my most seeming virtuous queen,” (1. 5. 46) which tells us that he had believed her to have been something she was not, a now obliterated image that can never be repaired.
All of this seething sense of betrayal is borne out In the few enraged lines Hamlet hurls at Gertrude after of modesty, [a reference to her lack of decorum] Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose from the fair forehead of an innocent love [scorns decency and destroyed his ether’s good opinion, a mockery of their love] And sets a blister there, [the festering pain of his father/ a reference to Claudia as a blister on Denmark] makes marriage vows and worthlessness of her word] And so the floodgate opens on a torrent of engulfing betrayals.
Hamlet sees Aphelia as having betrayed their relationship by rejecting him; he does not know it is at her father Polonium’s insistence that she does; he thinks she no longer cares for him. Perhaps, being the ‘obedient son’ himself; Hamlet may not have considered this a betrayal if he had been privy to the conversation between Polonium and Aphelia. As noted by Ian Johnson, [A lecture prepared for English 200 and revised for English 366: Studies in Shakespeare, by Ian Johnston of Malaysian-university College, Naomi, BC. Here is much eavesdropping in the play yet little that in anyway benefits Hamlet! The irony here lies in the fact that it is not her ‘repelling of Hamlet in this scene that manifests her betrayal of him. … 21. Assignment 02/ NEUMANN/ V. Cook/ 3399-2134 2. Aphelia only truly betrays Hamlet when she allows herself to be used by Polonium and Claudia in their determination to uncover the source of Hamlets ‘madness’. She knows they are spying on Hamlet yet she plays her part in the scheme, never letting on that they are eavesdropping.
Hamlet, wanting to exact his revenge for her perceived betrayed and rejection, and wanting to cement his ‘descent into madness’ ruse, begins to unleash his vitriol on Aphelia. He sets about laying the foundation by speaking in direct contradictions “l did love you once. ” (3. 1. 114) and almost immediately, “l loved you not. ” (3. 1. 117). He calls her father a fool’ and curses woman; accusing them making ‘monsters’ of the men they marry. In return for her loyalty to err father in rejecting and baiting Hamlet, he has now betrayed her.
In this feigned madness Hamlet is also able to ‘betray or deceive Polonium into thinking his madness stems from his grief over the loss of Aphelion’s love. He is not however, lucky enough to convince Claudia of the same thing. In fact, Hamlet ironically though unintentionally betrays his own true intent (to be a threat to Claudia) and the danger is immediately evident to Claudia, who, realizing Hamlet is a loose cannon, says: “There’s something in his soul O’er which his melancholy sits on brood, And I do not doubt the hatch and disclose
Will be some danger; which for to prevent, I have quick determination. ” (3. 1. 158-62) Hamlet, albeit unknowingly; has betrayed himself to Claudia who is now acutely aware of the threat Hamlet poses and is quick to protect himself by hatching a plan to send him off to England, to the near- fatal detriment of Hamlet. This is a rather shallow example of ‘self-betrayal’ in Prince Hamlet as a theme of the play as it does not happen with intent. Hamlet’s capacity for self-betrayal far outreaches these innocuous blunders and stretches all the way to a ‘premeditated deconstruction’ of
Much of literary discourse on Hamlet has centered on his inability to commit the act of revenge his father’s ghost has asked of him. As Ian Johnson [A lecture prepared for English 200 and revised for English 366: Studies in Shakespeare, by Ian Johnston of Malaysian-university College, Naomi, BC] discusses, many have pondered Hamlet’s reasoning; is it moral dilemma, cowardice, procrastination or merely lack of opportunity? Despite these many offerings not one of the sources Ian Johnson quotes (names such as E.
E Stool, Dover Wilson, Coleridge and even Goethe) considers that Hamlet’s, delay may be due to a calculated act on his part. There is no refuting the fact that he certainly faces a moral quandary; he must kill Claudia to avenge his father’s death. All we know of Hamlet points to this act being at variance with his character (here the likes of Goethe do agree that Hamlet is in a sense, too good for this world’ [A lecture prepared for English 200 and revised for English 366: Studies in Shakespeare, by Ian Johnston of Malaysian-university College, Naomi, SC].
But amongst all these scholars, none gives credit to the intellect of Hamlet. That he is good we know, but s an intellectual, educated Prince, he would know that of himself o! So how does a man of moral and intellectual capacity such as Hamlet, overcome his instinct to commit what is essentially a crime, albeit to avenge his father’s murder? It is in this internal conflict that the nuisance of Hamlet conscious attempt at self-betrayal begins to take shape. Hamlet’s delay (apparent inability) is actually the time he uses to ‘change himself into the person capable of the task he is faced with.