Corruption and Mortality in Hamlet Essay

2087 Words May 24th, 2013 9 Pages
Corruption and Mortality in Hamlet

Hamlet is arguably one of the most complex characters in literature, and most certainly within Shakespeare's realm. He can be both weak and admirable, and he defies the explanation of many readers I am sure. Death is a constant presence in HAMLET, right from the beginning of the play the themes of death and mortality set in with the death of King Hamlet. From then on, young Hamlet cannot stop questioning the meaning of life and more importantly, its' eventual end. In Hamlet's mind, it is not the idea of dying that frightens him; it's the uncertainty of what comes after death. This uncertainty overcomes him with obsession over death, suicide and mortality as a whole. Throughout the play, many key
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The theme of suicide in Hamlet goes almost hand in hand with that of corruption. The most obvious implication of this is the statement made by Marcellus, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," as the Ghost of King Hamlet leads young Hamlet off. In fact, MANY things are rotten in Denmark throughout the course of the tale. In Richard Altick's Article "Hamlet and the Odor of Mortality", he makes many references to images of decay and death throughout the play. He notes that "the cancerous nature of evil" (169) is about to come out in the following conversation between Hamlet and the ghost, just after Marcellus states that something is rotten. He's correct, of course, as the speech repeats the word "foul" upward of four times. Altick warns readers that from Marcellus' statement on, they won't forget the image of death and corruption in this play thus forward. He is right, of course, as mention is made throughout the play. Even much further on in Act 5 do the gravediggers make direct mention of human beings being rotten much before they die; “Faith, if he not be rotten before he die (as we have many pocky corses nowadays that will scarce hold the laying in).” (V.i.168-171) The gravedigger is speaking of plague, yes, but could he also be speaking of other “rotten” aspects of an individual? Most definitely. Another foul image that the article mentions comes from Act 4, where Claudius brings up disease and applies it to Hamlet’s corruption; “So much was our
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