In the play, â€œHamletâ€, William Shakespeare has used the theme of deception, and how its use by one or more characters leads to their downfall. In Act One; Scene Two, Polonius explicitly stated this theme when he said to Laertes; "By indirections find directions outâ€. Each major character in Hamlet, in his or her own way, provided an example of this theme. By using deceit the characters in "Hamlet" employed methods to fulfill their own needs, an action that ultimately resulted in tragedy. The recurring feature of the play is the basic conflict between outward appearance and inward reality.
Shakespeare's use of deception is seen most clearly in Hamlet's actions. The conflict between appearance and reality is central to accessing the character of Hamlet. He began to "act mad" early in the play in order to manipulate his friends. â€œAs I perchance hereafter shall think meetâ€¦To put an antic disposition onâ€. Hamlet swore to use this antic disposition to uncover his father's murderer. He used this performance in order to cover up his true feelings. Hamlet went too far however, and his devious plan began to work against him. By not coming clean with those he trusts most, Hamlet began to isolate them from himself. .
In Scene Three, Hamlet said to Ophelia, "God hath given you a face, and you make anotherâ€. Prince Hamlet hypocritically attacked her for hiding her opinions, while he himself hid his own opinions with the antic disposition. Ophelia is not the only character he acted mad toward; he used the same method toward all characters in the play. When speaking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, for example, he asked them to "be even and direct" with him, but did not inform them of the intent behind his own deceitful actions. As shown when Rosencrantz said to Hamlet, "Youâ€¦ bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your friend" .Hamlet had not been fully open with his friends.