The Use of Secrets in Hamlet
One may be prone to deceiving others for their own prosperity, and personal achievements. Individuals are naturally inclined to tell and/or keep a secret. In Shakespeare’s time, to be called a Renaissance man one must be respectable and honest, however, this is not seen with the characters in the play Hamlet. The main function of secrets lays in the hiding of the truth or the embodiment of a fictitious character. Secrets can be portrayed from a person either verbally such as withholding information or physically like presenting oneself in an act, not as their own true self. Every secret has its own outcomes and how people react to the effects is dependent upon the use and severity of a secret.
Secrets are used to withhold or gain information from others. This is evident throughout the play Hamlet with Shakespeare’s character king Claudius. To have a title of a good king a person must be trustworthy and sincere to the people in which they command. Claudius is portrayed as the complete opposite of this; a back stabbing, greedy and dishonest individual. Claudius keeps the murder of Hamlet Sr. a secret to the ones around him in order to keep the peace and most importantly to look after himself. However, the king’s secret was not completely hidden from all, it was discovered by Hamlet. This led to Hamlet’s secret “to put an antic disposition on”(Hamlet 1.5.190). One would agree that a person, especially in Shakespearean time, whom is considered mad, has little or no attention paid towards them. This is because people do not care if they are around, what they see or hear. People also believe they are innocent and speak meaningless words. An astute individual can see that from this conclusion hamlet began to act insane in order to appear harmless and pose little threat to his uncle. After this act he can start plotting perfect revenge against his father’s murderer. Hamlet’s secret is one of the few that truly remain a secret. Secrets are expressed in a multitude of ways throughout Hamlet. Hamlet, being a man of many secrets shows them both physically and mentally. Hamlet’s act of madness, his most blatant secret to the reader, is mostly demonstrated through his foul and nonsensical language spoken to those dearest to him. One can see that he truly has love for Ophelia although, for the most part, he keeps this secret buried within his madness. This can be seen when hamlet sends his love letter to Ophelia in an act to appear irrational to those read it, but within this letter he states he loves Ophelia. Polonius believes that Hamlet’s madness is the direct result of his and Ophelia’s dwindling relationship. A person of high intellect will see that this is what leads to the development of Polonius’ main cause; to deceive and secretly take advantage of his children to fuel his own prosperity, thus portraying Polonius as a pathological liar. Every secret has its own consequence. Throughout the play Hamlet every secret yields only a negative outcome. An effective reader will conclude that Polonius’ death is the direct result of his own directly correlated to his secret. However, one can see that Polonius’ secrecy and eventual death has after effects which carried out unto his children; Ophelia and Laertes. An individual can see that Laertes’ death is brought about by dueling Hamlet to get revenge for the self-inflicted death of his father. “His means of death, his obscure funeral –/ No trophy, sword, nor hatchment over his bones, / No noble rite, nor formal ostentation.”(Hamlet 4.5.224-226) Ophelia, like Laertes, is guided toward death with her father’s passing. This is not the sole cause however. Ophelia is being driven into madness and eventual death with the death of her father and the separation with