Although many works of literature are very long, the main idea can be summarized in one or two of its lines. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the most important line is: “This above all, to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man” (1. 3, 78-80).
Spoken by Polonius, this advice is present throughout the entire play, together with the motifs of truth and lying. The characters desire to be true to themselves; however, some of them are not true to others. The main character, Hamlet, is a character that is not true to others, nor to himself.
When the Ghost of his father tells him he was murdered by Claudius, Hamlet doubts the truth. He does not trust the ghost of his father, so has to find a way to prove it. Deciding on how to prove or disprove the Ghost, Hamlet predicts: “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” (2. 2, 616-17).
Because he distrusts the Ghost, Hamlet is not true to his father. However, when his plan proves to him that the Ghost’s words are true, Hamlet still does not act; he still cannot avenge his father’s murder. Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius, using the fact that he is praying as an excuse. Hamlet does not want Claudius’s soul to go to heaven, therefore he decides not to kill him, explaining: “A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do the same villain send to heaven” (3. 3, 76-78).
... father to see Claudius's reaction. The most important soliloquy in the play (act 3 scene 1) reveals to the reader's Hamlets true ... Claudius, that Claudius is smiling to show that he is nice when he isn't. In this soliloquy we also understand more about Hamlets character ... in this soliloquy. When the ghost of Hamlet's father reveals to Hamlet who killed him, Hamlet becomes more complicating, he becomes ...
However, after trying to pray, the King claims that his prayers were not heard: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. / Words without thoughts never to heaven go” (3. 3, 97-8).
Therefore, had Hamlet chosen to kill Claudius at that time, his soul would have gone to Hell.
Hamlet uses God as an excuse for not acting. He is not true and is lying to himself, because he wants to kill Claudius, yet does not. Claudius is also a character who is neither true to himself nor to others: he is not being true to the rest of the kingdom. He does not want to give up his gains, so the people of Denmark do not know why their previous King has died and his brother taken over.
While making an attempt to pray, he realizes that his sins cannot be forgiven. He wishes to be forgiven, but refuses to give up what he has gained while sinning. He laments:” … O what form of prayer / Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’? / That cannot be, since I am still possessed / Of those effects for which I did the murder, / My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen. / May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?” (3. 3, 52-56).
He cannot be truthful to himself, to what he wants, unless he gives up his riches. He wants to be forgiven by God, but cannot. Therefore he is not being true to himself, and is lying to God. To be true to God, he must give up the crown, the kingdom, and the queen.
The character that is most true to himself is Prince Fortinbras. To him, honor is very important. He is willing to fight and lose men over a “little patch of land / That hath in it no profit but the name” (4. 5, 18-19), because honor is to be won or lost.
Hamlet says that Fortinbras’ action is, “Rightly to be great / Is not to stir without great argument, / But greatly to find quarrel in a straw / When honor’s at the stake” (4. 5, 54-56).
Fortinbras’s ending his men to die over a worthless piece of land shows how important honor truly is to him. He follows his beliefs and values by going to Poland to fight for the land. Thus, he is being truthful to what he believes in. Truth and lying are important threads to the play, as many situations have them at their center.
Hamlet was a person, who was born before his time. Hamlet was civilized before even today s standards. He is a person who demonstrated humanity at its utmost. The combination of this and everyone s cruelty around him would prove to be his fatal tragedy. Hamlet was a person who believed in honor. He felt that every man was in the end the same. It made no difference how much money a person had or ...
Polonius’ advice is key throughout the entire play of Hamlet. The characters try to be true to themselves, sometimes unsuccessfully, and end up lying to others.