The conflict has been one of the central themes of Hamlet, the celebrated play by Shakespeare, and the conflict between seeming and constituting a major part of the conflict theme. “The theme that remains constant throughout the play is appearance versus reality. Things within the play appear to be true and honest but in reality, are infested with evil. Many of the characters within the play hide behind a mask of falseness.” (Hamlet – Appearance vs. Reality). An analysis of the characters such as Hamlet, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern clarifies the play’s obsession with the theme of the conflict between seeming and being.
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The character of Hamlet
This conflict is most evident in the character of Hamlet who is always hesitating to act due to this dilemma or conflict in his character. The character is presented as constantly struggling due to the question of “to be or not to be” and this conflict is the result of what is apparent and real. The nature of the character is not clear to the character itself nor it is clear to other characters and in a way the whole play can be treated as an endeavor to find the real in his being. All through the play, several factors point to the conflict between seeming and being, such as the facts regarding the ghost, the affection of a mother, the love of Ophelia, the sincerity in the friendship with many characters, the inner realities of his character, the realities regarding other characters, etc. Hamlet seems, in his assessment, to be very fast in action, correct in decisions, and rational in actions. However, the analysis of the character proves these claims to be wrong as the reason for every tragedy in the play is Hamlet’s failure in decision making, right judgment, and quick and efficient action. Thus, the obsession for the conflict between seeming and being is very evident and accurate in the play.
The character of Ophelia
An evaluation of the character of Ophelia further augments the point that the tragedy is obsessed by the conflict between seeming and being. Ophelia seems, through her words and claims, to be very affectionate and sincere in her relationship with Hamlet. However, often the character proves herself that the claim is far from reality. Every element about the character of Ophelia makes it clear that the character is less faithful and sincere in her relationship with Hamlet. Whereas Hamlet often proves his love for Ophelia such as in the very remarkable statement at the Graveyard Scene, Ophelia fails to be of great comfort and use to Hamlet at his time of difficulty. The character, on the one hand, seems to be very much important to the character of Hamlet through her words with Polonius and others. However, on the other hand, she does not contribute greatly to the character of Hamlet at his times of distress. Thus, there is a notable conflict in the character between what is true and what seems and the obsession for this conflict has been very clear in the play.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Another character study that contributes to the topic of the play’s obsession with the conflict between seeming and being is that of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They seem to be the true friends of Hamlet who wish to be of solace to him in his time of distress. However, it is obvious in the play that the two are nothing but the tools at the hands of Claudius to amplify the mental struggle in him. They seem to be sincere in their action and their dialogues with Hamlet claim that they are very much dedicated to his well-being. However, their actions and thoughts betray them and it becomes clear to the audience, as it is obvious to Hamlet, that they are expecting the downfall of Hamlet’s mental being. These characters seem to be true and honest, but their words, thoughts, and action bring out the real being of their character.
Hamlet – Appearance vs. Reality. 2008. Web.