Denmark is a prison in here a mood of suspicion and secrecy pervades the entire drama, there is a distinct sense of lack of trust and sense of surveillance. Subsequently there would be analyzed some instances where characters are spying on each other, informing and being informed upon suspicious acts, to protect themselves and their honor.
The first instance of spying in the play is when Hamlet’s ghost appears at the Elsinore castle. After the king said to his son the real caused and author of his death, Claudius, Hamlet’s point of view among his uncle and mother changes, he starts looking them as strangers and suspicious people. From this scene is where Hamlet immediately distrusts them and he keeps them under 24 hour surveillance.
Another instance is when Polonius sends Reynald to spy on his son Laertes. Polonius wants to spy on his son because he simply does not trust his children and keeps always an over watchful eye on them. In Act I, Scene 3 when Laertes is preparing to leave, Polonius is very insistent in great detail about how he should behave in France. So he sends Reynald to know if Laertes is gaming, drinking or going to brothels, anything that could affect the family reputation. So in this example the level of surveillance get to the point of spying their own family. Finally his curiosity lead to his death, curiosity killed the cat.
Subsequently the next spying situation is when Claudius and Polonius are spying on Hamlet. Their purpose of this is to proof if Hamlet was really crazy. At this part of the play Claudius has a supposition along with Gertrude that the cause of his madness was because of the death of his father and their marriage. Polonius and Claudius are really sure that hamlet was crazy, but what they don’t now is that he is doing it on purpose which part of his plan. The reason why, especially Claudius is spying Hamlet, is because the next heir of the throne is his nephew. The king finally decides to send Hamlet to England.
After there is an occasion of spying of Polonius on Hamlet through a letter that he gave to Ophelia. This is another way to proof if he really is mad, not convinced with his acts, Polonius wants to find a clue in the letter, because he thinks that the reason of his madness is because of his love with Ophelia. As you can notice, he wants desperately find the cause of this situation, but this interest of knowing the truth is not directly from Polonius, but orders from the king Claudius; who wants to make sure he is safe in his throne.
For the second time, Polonius doesn’t trust in his sons, and spies Laertes and Ophelia. He spies them to make sure he won’t do anything bad that would confess to Ophelia. All this spying and surveillance among his sons is to protect the family honor, especially if they are close friends and servers of the kings.
Then Claudius and Gertrude send two friends of Hamlet, to discover the cause of his strange behavior. This has no result because at this point Hamlet is so distrustful, that he even suspects among his old friends, and immediately he makes them confess who send them, and his suspicions were correct. At this point of the play there a complete surveillance between Hamlet and the kings, who include him mother.
The most important and scheming instance of spying in the play, is Hamlet on the king’s reaction in the play Mouse Trap. This moment was so eagerly awaited for Hamlet, when finally the prickles inside them, burst and goad their souls. Hamlet enjoys how the king, especially Claudius, suffers from inside and regrets of what he done. He looks the kings with a very ironic and mocking gaze. It’s a penetrating look like if he had the devils eyes. At the end it is no longer spying, but he faces up the truth and declares his knowledge of the crime to the king and queen.
Almost at the end of the climax, there is a very important spying situation, which is when Hamlet finds King Claudius praying and sorrowing of the murder of his brother. At this scene hamlet observes how the king is suffering, but his anger wants to kill him, and this would be the perfect situation, but he thinks about and gets to a conclusion of, if he kills him, Claudius would easily get to heaven but if Hamlet lets him alive, his feeling of fault would kill his soul and go to hell, suffering for the eternity. This would be the perfect revenge, so Hamlet decides to regret and leave him alive, while all this moment, the king had no idea that his nephew was at his back wanting to kill him.
The next instance is when Polonius spies on Hamlet, when he is talking with his mother in her bedroom. When he hears Hamlet coming to the bedroom, he decides to stay and hide instead of leaving the room. Polonius wanted to know what was really happening with Hamlet and his supposed madness. So that’s why he spies Hamlet expecting to know the truth of the situation.
There is also a situation of spying, but not with the intention of self-interest, but with a purpose of health concerning. This is the spying instance of Claudius and Polonius spy on mad Ophelia. She was an innocent girl who never caused them troubles, and also was known of being mature and serious, so overnight seeing her in a complete state of madness, affects them a lot. This case is a bit ironic because the kings and Polonius first thought that the cause of the supposed madness of Hamlet was cause by Ophelia, but at the end occurs totally the opposite way.
In conclusion, after analyzing all this instances, Denmark is definitely a prison, in which there is a complete surveillance and lack of trust among everyone. This gets to an extreme of suspecting among their own family. There is a big mood of suspicion which pervades during all the play, from the very beginning to the end. Spying creates more suspicion and causes more conflicts, which ends with a tragic consequence with many innocent people dead.