By Isabel Smith-Bernstein
Hamlet, as a play, is a cipher. The text reflects our own humanity back to us, holding up to whatever themes or ideas we apply to it. We can find in Hamlet whatever we want to find when we arrive at the play in that particular moment.
Hamlet the character is similar. The Prince of Denmark can inhabit endless corners of humanity. He holds up to time.
Being human is difficult. Hamlet knows this, and therefore he’s on a search for authenticity throughout the play. Before the play begins, his mother betrays him by quickly forgetting his father and marrying his uncle. Hamlet knows that something is not right and the Ghost confirms this for him. Hamlet follows a desperate quest to find out the truth. In doing so he discovers his authentic self.
Hamlet has two allies in his quest for truth—Ophelia and Horatio. Other than those two, he is alone on a difficult journey. Who can Hamlet trust when so few are honest?