Betrayal In Hamlet

Theme of betrayal and backstabbing in Hamlet? Quotes of various instances in which this theme was prominent.

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caitlinjoseph10 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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Betrayl begins the play, Hamlet.  Claudius betrays King Hamlet by killing him and taking his fortune, his wife, and his position as King. Gertrude betrays Hamlet by marrying Cladius so quickly after his father's death.  Hamlet views their relationship as incenstuous - because Cladius is Gertrude's brother (by marriage).  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern betray Hamlet by following Claudius' direction, spying on Hamlet, and reporting back to Claudius. Claudius betrays Gertrude in the end by not telling her about the poisoned cup.  Polonius stays loyal to Cladius, and thus betrays Hamlet.  Polonius also convinces Ophelia not to continue her relationship with Hamlet, and she severs tie with him.  Hamlet betrays Laertes by killing Polonius, and after he does this Laertes also betrays Hamlet by remaining loyal to Cladius. 

The only relationship that is not affeced by betrayal is between Hamlet and Horatio.  Horatio remains loyal and loving to Hamlet until the end.  Horatio even offers to follow Hamlet in death by drinking the remaining poison. 

Betrayal Quotes

Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,—
O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen:
O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!
From me, whose love was of that dignity
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage, and to decline
Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed,
And prey on garbage.

The Ghost of King Hamlet informs Hamlet how he was killed by Claudius and asks Hamlet to seek revenge for his death.

You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks
which your modesties have not craft enough to colour:
I know the good king and queen have sent for you.

Speaking to his old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he senses the deception and betrayl behind them being sent for. 

I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.

Laertes dies from his betryal to Hamlet and his loyalty to Claudius.


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