Appearance Versus Reality

Appearance versus Reality



  • Appearance
    • Deals swiftly with the Fortinbras issue.
      • Fortinbras is planning an attack on Denmark.
      • Claudius sends his ambassadors to Norway to tell Fortinbras’ Uncle to put a stop to his nephew’s actions.
      • Ambassadors are told that they have no power to negotiate on Claudius’ behalf showing strength in his reign.
  • Manages the people in both grief and joy.
  • Loving husband.
  • Eagar to please his subjects (Laertes).
  • Tries to please Hamlet.
  • Reality
    • Usurper.
    • Manipulative and cunning.
      • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find the reason behind Hamlet’s antic disposition.
      • The killing of Old King Hamlet.
      • Attempt to send Hamlet to his death in England.
      • Spying on Hamlet in the ‘nunnery scene’.
      • Deceives Gertrude into believing he loves her and has Hamlet’s best interests at heart.
      • Manipulates Laertes into the mock duel.
  • Not all the Danish people are happy with his reign.
    • Laertes enters the throne room seeking answers to his father’s death and the people are behind him shouting for him to be king.
  • Selfish.
    • Unaffected by Polonius’ death realising it could have been him and Ophelia’s death.
    • Marriage to Gertrude is less important than his ambition.
    • Kills his brother.
  • Destined for failure.
    • Kill God’s representative on earth. Assumes the role as God’s representative on earth but clearly shows us he has no link to God.


  • Appearance
    • Antic disposition.
    • Swift of action.
    • No love for Ophelia.
    • Reality
      • Procrastination.
      • Sane.
      • Searching for the truth.
      • Dismay at the world.
      • Hamlet assumes an different persona reacting to the false persona already applied by Claudius.


  • Appearance
    • Loyal and noble servant of the king.
    • Reality
      • Sly and selfish.


  • Appearance
    • Loving and happy Queen.
    • Strong for her people.
    • Reality
      • Shows clear weakness when confronted by Hamlet.
      • Easily manipulated by Claudius.
        • Kills her husband and marries her.
        • Appears to have Hamlet’s interests at heart but is plotting his death. (England and Duel)


  • Appearance
    • Noble man of strong and decisive character.
    • Reality
      • Easily manipulated.
      • Deceitful.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

  • Appearance
    • Arrive under the guise of being friends of Hamlet.
    • Reality
      • Trying to find the cause of Hamlets antic disposition for Claudius.
      • Manipulated by Claudius.


  • Appearance
    • Innocent.
    • Spurns Hamlet.
    • Reality
      • Manipulated.
      • Loves Hamlet.

Points to note:

  • Opening scene sets the atmosphere for the entire play ‘There is something rotten in the state of Denmark’.
  • Idea of ‘seeming’ runs throughout the play.
  • The mechanism for the entire plot of the play is the Ghost.
  • The Ghost itself is questionable and is questioned by Hamlet ‘a spirit of health or goblin damned’.
  • The introduction of the Ghost dispels any illusions to the true appearance of the King and Queen.
  • Osric as a member of the Danish court shows it to be false to the core.
  • The duel takes the appearance of a game but is really an act of murder.


  • Painting: Ophelia’s make-up hides who she is.
  • Cloaking: Polonius hiding behind the curtains.
  • Acting: The Mousetrap/ Hamlet/ Claudius/ Ophelia/ Polonius/ Laertes / Rosencrantz and Guildenstern/ Danish Court.



1 thought on “Appearance Versus Reality”

  1. V helpful, thanks

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