Find 3 similarities and 3 differences for the theme of deception/betrayal in The Catcher in the Rye and Hamlet.

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1. Both Hamlet and Holden feel betrayed by changes in the structure of their families of origin. Hamlet feels betrayed when his mother quickly remarries Claudius, her late husband's brother, after her husband's death. Hamlet also feels betrayed when he finds out that his uncle murdered his father. Holden feels betrayed by the death of his brother, Allie, from leukemia.

2. Betrayal causes both Hamlet and Holden to become depressed and angry.

3. Betrayal raises questions in both character's minds about who is real and who is phony. Both struggle with who they can trust, and both long to return to a more innocent past. Hamlet wishes his godlike father were still alive, while Holden wishes he could retreat to the safety of childhood, where nothing important ever changed.


1. Hamlet's sense of betrayal emerges from a larger betrayal: his uncle's murder of his father. Hamlet learns of this through the supernatural: his father's ghosts appears and tells him he was murdered. Holden feels betrayed by Allie's death, but that event was not generated by someone with evil intent: it simply happened. Also, Holden does not face any supernatural forces in the novel and doesn't have to worry about avenging a death.

2. Hamlet's depression and anger due to betrayal (his father's murder and his mother's remarriage) turn him towards thoughts of suicide. Holden, however, acts out his anger and depression differently: he smashes the windows of his family garage and then does not do his schoolwork so that he flunks out of boarding school.

3. Hamlet, as a prince with too much information, has a much more life-threatening path to tread as he deals with avenging his father's betrayal. His ability to discern the real from the phony has literal life or death consequences. Holden, however, does not have to worry that someone is going to murder him: he is not the son of king but a more typical adolescent trying to come grips in an ordinary way with the fact the world isn't necessarily what it seems.

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