Appearance and Reality Themes in the Midnight Library and Hamlet

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Appearance vs. Reality in The Midnight Library and Hamlet

While appearance and reality can be deceiving, it’s well shown within The Midnight Library and Hamlet. Things aren’t always as they seem to be, and these texts prove that. The protagonists often hide behind a persona, but the truth always becomes revealed. This usually ends in someone getting hurt, and it doesn’t tend to have the best outcome. You never know how others will perceive your actions or thoughts; the Midnight Library and Hamlet display these themes well.

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In these texts, appearance, and reality lead various characters to do contentious things.

The Midnight Library: Nora’s Quest for Identity

In a state of transition between life and death, Nora discovers herself in a vast library where, as long as it doesn’t get past midnight, she can try out any chance at life. She is able to let go of many disappointments through the process of doing so. In The Midnight Library, Nora serves as the main character. She is lonesome and depressed. She struggles with an ongoing need for approval from others around her. Nora spends her entire life trying to win over her family and friends, but she frequently feels let down by how they treat her. She essentially makes herself the victim.

The other characters in this text never truly understood what Nora was going through. She portrays such a great image, but it’s not as it seems to be. Nora always manages to minimize her mental health issues, which is a major contributing factor in her suicide. Although it is perplexing, it is refreshing to know Nora might have a way out when she visits the library. However, that is not reality because life isn’t as perfect and straightforward as the library sometimes makes it seem.

Hamlet: Deception and Betrayal

Many people consider William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet to be his best accomplishment. Hamlet is really the classic representation of a tragic situation. In all tragedies, the hero suffers and, in most cases, dies. Hamlet is killed by such a toxic dagger. The theme of appearance vs. reality runs throughout this text. Many situations appear to be straightforward and honest, but they are actually deceptive and dishonest. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, serves as the play’s protagonist. When Hamlet’s father passes away, Claudius, his uncle, weds his mother and ascends to the kingdom. Hamlet’s father tells the adolescent prince that he was killed by Claudius. Therefore, he wants Hamlet to kill Claudius to take revenge.

Nora’s life was utterly challenging if looked at from a certain point of view. She’s lived out most of her life not for herself but ultimately for the people around her. Nora tends to be a people pleaser. Because Mrs. Elm provided stability and security Nora needed in the midst of her turbulent family situation, she frequented the library on a regular basis.

The first ‘book’ Nora borrows demonstrates to her how despair has clouded her judgment. She made the decision not to wed her fiancé Dan as one of ‘the regrets that were on continual loop in her head.’ Meeting her husband in this lifetime demonstrates that she didn’t have many regrets from her ‘rooted’ lifetime, the one she desired to leave behind. Dan has become adulterous and consumes too much alcohol. Nora, however, does not see the importance of understanding Dan’s potential future behavior. Instead, it involves reestablishing contact with her earlier impressions and observations that had been obscured by the depressive lens.

Conclusion: The Complex Dance of Truth and Illusion


In Hamlet, all the characters, in one way or another, are hiding their true intentions, much like Claudius, who, behind his charismatic smile, is a damned villain. “One may smile and smile and be a villain” (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5). Hamlet focuses on the villainy hidden behind Claudius’ happy demeanor, who pretends to be upright and honest in order to justify his authority. The way Hamlet intends to use the play to determine if the king is responsible for the death of his father is another example of reality vs. appearance. “The play’s the thing. Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Claudius is misled into thinking he is attending a play. He is unaware that a later scene in the play will accuse him of killing Hamlet’s father.


  1. Haig, M. (2020). The Midnight Library: A Novel [Hardcover]. Viking.
  2. Shakespeare, W. (2016). Hamlet [Paperback]. (A. Author, Ed.) Simon & Schuster. (Original work published 1603-1604).
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Appearance and Reality themes in The Midnight Library and Hamlet. (2023, Jun 18). Retrieved from