In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the themes of illness, corruption and decay can be seen throughout the play. The imagery is used not only to depict the characters, but to demonstrate the state of Denmark to the audience. Through this essay, I will be discussing the development of the themes of illness, corruption and decay throughout the play, followed by the effect this has on Hamlet. Furthermore, I will be discussing how Hamlet intended to ‘set it right’ (Hamlet 1. 5. 205–6) and how all this ended in tragedy.
The impression of the play is reinforced by imagery of decay, illness and the emotional and moral decay of the characters. The play starts off with the death of King Hamlet, and the marriage between Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother to Claudius, his uncle, and brother to the King. Hamlet does not approve of this marriage and describes it as ‘A little more than kin and less than kind’ (Hamlet 1.2.65) in his eyes, the marriage is little more than incest, a morally guilty act, especially in the highest marriage in the land. Throughout the play all off the characters morally decay and become corrupted which leads to their deaths. Claudius perishes throughout the play and continues to become more corrupted as the play progresses. He not only kills his brother in cold blood and usurps his throne by marrying the queen, but he also tries to get rid of Hamlet for his own selfish purpose and turns everyone against him. He gets Polonius and Ophelia to spy on Hamlet, which results in him not trusting anyone, even his best friends (who have turned on him) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They were his childhood friends, Claudius corrupted them and they were sent with Hamlet to England to ensure his execution, which ironically led to their deaths instead. ‘I like him not, nor stands it safe with us/ To let his madness range./Therefore prepares you;/ I your commission will forthwith dispatch,/ And he to England shall along with you:/ The terms of your estate... [continues]
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