Imagery of Disease and Decay in Hamlet Essays

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Imagery of Disease and Decay in Hamlet

William Shakespeare found that imagery was a useful tool to give his works greater impact and hidden meaning. In Hamlet, Shakespeare used imagery to present ideas about the atmosphere, Hamlet's character, and the major theme of the play. He used imagery of decay to give the reader a feel of the changing atmosphere. He used imagery of disease to hint how some of the different characters perceived Hamlet as he put on his "antic disposition". And finally, he used imagery of poison to emphasize the main theme of the play; everybody receives rightful retribution in the end.

Early in Hamlet, Shakespeare's first use of imagery was of decay. Marcellus says, "Something is rotten in the
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The imagery of decay used at slightly different parts of the play shows Shakespeare's mastery of imagery to change the atmosphere, and therefore, to give the story more impact.

Later in the play, Shakespeare began using imagery of disease. One example of this came when Hamlet says, "Sir, I cannot make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased", (III; ii; 296-298) to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when they were sent by the queen to give Hamlet a message. The imagery of disease used here exposes that Hamlet is distracted by the suspicion he has for Rosencratz and Guildenstern since they were caught earlier for spying on him for the king. Moreover, this quote implies that Hamlet is distracted with thoughts of how he will murder Claudius. However, Hamlet uses the word "diseased" to highlight his "antic disposition" and to make Rosencrantz and Guildenstern think that he is truly mad, and therefore, throws them off of his plans. Imagery of disease was used a second time when Claudius says, "Diseases desperate grown by desperate appliance are relieved, or not at all", (III; ii; 243) while he was contemplating the idea of sending Hamlet to England. Here, Claudius says "diseases" in the sense that he thinks Hamlet (the desperate appliance) is mad, and therefore, is a threat to him. Thus, he thinks of sending Hamlet to England. Once again, the imagery of disease
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