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Carps of Truth Polonius tells Reynaldo that in order to be an effective liar, he should "bait his falsehood with (a) carp of truth."  Polonius may be a weasel, but he's right.  The best lies always contain an element of real truth.  Are there other falsehoods in Hamlet that nevertheless contain a grain of truth?  How might you tie this truism to modern or historical lies?

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clane eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I feel like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not totally honest with Hamlet, they are spying on their "friend" for Claudius so they are constantly prodding him for information about his actions and/or state of mind. They are or were his friends so their friendship has that element of truth to it, but it is certainly heavily laced with lies now that their ambition has driven them to seek the favor of the new king.

We are studying the Holocaust of Nazi Germany through literature in one of my classes this quarter so my head is running along those historical lines these days. I compare Germany at the end of World War I to a girl who has just been dumped by a crummy boyfriend. Germany was vulnerable and looking for some vehicle to get her back on her feet, unluckily for the Germans the Nazis finally had their opening to move in and sweep her off her feet with promises to turn the economy around for Germany (kind of like those guys who prey on vulnerable women). The Nazi motto was hard for Germany to turn away from: Common Good before Individual Good. It was truth, but only truth if you supported the entire Nazi cause, camps and murders, and all. There was the truth that the Nazi sought good for the group, but the lie was that the group was violently exclusive.

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malibrarian eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hamlet's denial of his love for Ophelia...Of course, that might be 100% a lie for all we know. I think Hamlet loved her, but he didn't feel like he could trust her completely since she was so devoted and obedient to Polonius.

Everytime a politican opens his or her mouth and says they won't raise taxes...I suppose there's an element of truth to that...they won't raise taxes on a day not ending in "Y"! :)

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Every time Claudius speaks of his love for Hamlet there is a bit of truth hidden within a lie.  The man doesn't trust his nephew/son and in fact, hires Hamlet's "friends" to deliver him to his death. 

 As far as modern ties, how about, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" ? 

You don't need to go far to find them...just look to Washington D.C.  Call me a cynic...  :)


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