• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark' - At the end of the play, how might an audience have decided what this 'something' is and why it is 'rotten'.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Rebecca 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.' At the end of the play, how might an audience have decided what this 'something' is and why it is 'rotten'. Marcellus comments that something is rotten in Act One scene four, after Hamlet has seen the ghost for the first time and has departed to talk to it. In a short space of time, Marcellus has seen the ghost of the old King in arms and Hamlet, the heir apparent to the Danish throne airing his suicidal tendencies. Horatio his fellow officer of the watch has similar foreboding and morbid thoughts 'This bodes some strange eruption to our state.' Primarily this would appear to be the situation of Denmark as it prepares for war with the Norwegians, but could be a prophecy similar to Marcellus's that this would bode badly for their nation state. Wilson Knight wrote that if we were to see the world through Hamlet's eyes, we would find: 'Claudius as the blackest of criminals, Gertrude as an adulteress, Polonius as a fool and Ophelia as a deceit and decoy'1 Certainly at the climax and conclusion of the play this would appear satisfactory to an audience as an answer as to 'what is rotten?' ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare left out a scene that would have answered the crucial question of 'what is rotten?' that where we could see Claudius's reaction to The Mousetrap. Perhaps if we saw repentance or suicidal feelings we would see that Hamlet was the rotten thing, but perhaps if he were seen feeling a greater sense of vilification of killing King Hamlet we would believe the rotten element was Claudius. The Ghost in Hamlet is a very potent symbol of the decay that is taking place in Elsinore. To an audience today it would be seen as a device used for dramatic effect yet in the period it would have told the audience that treachery was rife. Shakespeare had recently written Julius Caesar, and as such his audience would have been well aware of what it symbolised. It also symbolises unrest, the upset of not belonging to either this world or the next, that in fact it belongs nowhere. Another great belief was that ghosts were demonic and would attempt to make a living person do wrong, and some would have believed that the ghost was trying to get hamlet to kill Claudius wrongly. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many factors governing why Hamlet had become the rotten factor in the state of Denmark, which were caused by a chain of unfortunate events. Shakespeare had written Hamlet as a melancholy character, with whom it is difficult to have sympathy, and yet he finds himself as a tragic hero. His fatal flaw was his indecision. The audience would be able to see that Claudius was a corrupt, selfish character, but like all villains had redeeming features, whilst with Hamlet although he elicits sympathy we have no reason to actually like him. He is melancholy, depressing, rude and troubled, he never makes us empathise with him. Throughout the play there is a sense of fear, doom and fate, mainly expressed by Hamlet. The answer as to why the something is rotten, i.e. Hamlet, then we would have to reason that the events which unfold during the play create serious mental anguish for someone who is already experiencing anguish through the grief at the suspicious death of his beloved father, and the very factor that he sees a supernatural ghost. In conclusion Hamlet is the rot in Denmark because he has experienced problems which he simply has no way of dealing with. 1 Wilson Knight, The Wheel Of Fire, 'The Embassy Of Death: An Essay On Hamlet' ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

*** 3 Stars

This is a good essay which includes critical comments and a strong idea of how the original audience would have responded. The essay remains focused on the question but at times statements need to be supported more strongly by textual evidence. A strong beginning but loses some momentum towards the end.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Why does Hamlet still matter?

    5 star(s)

    confidence in his consciousness, exemplifying his low self-image, as Hamlet?s mind is divided between exacting revenge on a man who may be innocent, and the ghost who claims Claudius murdered his father. This concept is reflective of Protestant theology, a study Hamlet may or may not have undertaken during his studies at Wittenberg.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the "loving mother-son" relationship between Gertrude and Hamlet, with focus on language.

    4 star(s)

    that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,-- O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen. (I.V.42-5) The alliteration in theses lines emphasises on the Queen's sexuality and yet her child-like nature.

  1. The Dramatic Function of Ophelia in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.

    She has never been responsible for making decisions about how to live because her father and brother have always controlled her conduct. As Claudius acknowledges, her madness is "the poison of deep grief / It springs all from her father's death."

  2. Discuss Hamlet's attitude to death and the afterlife, giving indications to how both contemporary ...

    He is wary because it was believed at the time that ghosts brought evil and were not good however, because the ghost so resembles his father and because Hamlet mourns him, he is prepared to believe that it is an honest ghost.

  1. In what ways does Shakespeare create sympathy for Hamlet in the first two acts?

    the fifth act, so as to exploit dramatically an important point in official Elizabethan political doctrine- that armed resistance was unlawful in the case of a tyrannical hereditary monarchy, but not in an elected monarchy. Some critics argue that Claudius was elected by the people and deserving of the throne

  2. Hamlet's Tragic Flaw leading to his Demise

    The most famous line in English literature "To be, or not to be: that is the question" (III.i.56) is declared by Hamlet, and this marks the start of another soliloquy. In this soliloquy again he contemplates suicide and death, to rid his pains of living on earth, similar to the first soliloquy.

  1. Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

    as well as everybody else. The fact that both of their fathers have been murdered brings us to one of the major similarities between Laertes and Hamlet. It is in their role as avengers in the play. Laertes takes revenge against his father Polonius's death, where he immediately assumes Claudius

  2. An Analysis of Hamlets Philosophy of Life and Death in William Shakespeares Hamlet

    and ?grief?(5.1.267). Thus, Hamlet has a new fatalism about him, but death still moves him when it is personal, which is continually seen through to the end of the play. Hamlet?s once pessimistic view on life and death takes a final turn when he takes everything that has happened and comes to believe that ?providence?(5.2.234)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work