I was listening to this radio program on the weekend about lying. There is an interesting documentary made by CBC called “The Truth about Liars” and it reveals some nasty truths about our deceptive ways.
Many of Shakespeare’s plays explore falsehoods whether they be outright lies or subtle deceptions. I started a list of the deceptions in Hamlet:
- Polonius seeks the truth about Laertes in Paris through spying and lying
- Claudius lies and deceives the state of Denmark
- Hamlet seeks the truth through deception (The Murder of Gonzago) and his “antic disposition
- Ophelia lies to Hamlet when he asks “Where is your father?”
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern attempt to deceive Hamlet
- Laertes seeks revenge by deceptive means and conspires with Claudius
- Fortinbras deceives his Uncle, and Claudius.
- The players also “act” and attempt to persuade and audience to believe their emotions are real
“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”
Although many writers call these ideas “appearance vs reality”, I believe it is a bit more complex in this play. In fact, the opening question of the play suggests that no one can be certain of anything. Uncertainty is a fact of life, and one of those inevitable instabilities that we must accept.
We can never be certain.
I’m sure of it.