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Hamlet Appearance Vs. Reality Essay, Research Paper

Appearance vs. Reality

The theme of appearance versus reality has shown up in some of the major works read this year. The themes were present in William Shakespeare?s play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and also in the epic poem Beowulf. In both plays the topic was evident during the plot of each story.

In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark the appearance of good and the reality of bad plays an important role. Some characters in the play say certain things to cover up an evil plan. In the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are close friends to Hamlet. When asked by Claudius, the king, to find out what is bothering Hamlet, they appear to try to help him but they are really trying to find the truth for the king and defy the friendship. In another instance, the king made the plan to send Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern to England to supposedly get money owed to Denmark but in reality they are on the trip to kill Hamlet. Also the appearance of the king as a good ruler at the beginning of the play is realized to be false when certain actions of the king are revealed. His evilness is shown throughout the play within this theme.

The epic poem, Beowulf, shows the same theme within the plot. Beowulf, who appears to be invisible after killing Grendel and his mother, faces the fire dragon that defeats him. Before the battle he appears to be unstoppable. He is clothed and equipped with the best materials entering the fight. During the battle though his weapons fail and he becomes vulnerable. Soldiers that were to fight with him fled at the sight of the dragon because they may have been afraid of the dragon and too over confident in their king. One man, Wiglaf, stood behind Beowulf during the battle because he noticed Beowulf was struggling. He saw that his lord was tormented by the heat of the dragon and tried to help him. Wiglaf was not enough to prevent the dragon from killing his king and when the other men returned they realized Beowulf?s fate. They found that he really was human and not as mighty as he appeared.

In both works the appearance of greatness is realized to be false. Claudius in The Tragedy of Hamlet turns out to be evil and Beowulf in Beowulf turns out to be mortal. In each case the reader is led to believe one thing but as the plot progresses the reader conceives the true reality of the characters.


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