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How do images of disease and corruption support the opening of "Hamlet?"

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Mandip Dhillon How do images of disease and corruption support the opening of "Hamlet?" As a revenge tragedy, "Hamlet" is saturated with the dual themes of disease and corruption. However the opening of this play is particularly embedded with these themes and function as a useful indicator as to the flavour of what is to come. In this essay, I will analyse the key function of images in the opening act of "Hamlet" and examine how these images of disease and corruption create the all important tension needed to ignite this tragic play. Right from Act one, scene 1 the readers immediately get the impression that, there is something erroneous going on in the scene, and there is something that the guards; "Barnardo and Francisco" are frightened or troubled by. We get this intuition directly from the following quotation by Francisco; "...'Tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart." The readers get the notion of a sense of uneasiness, in the scene simply due to the mere words spoken by Francisco, the guard. This creates an image of an almost "diseased" man who is "sick at heart." The readers believe and come up with some kind of an indication, that this guard, "Francisco" is either ill, due to a disease, which he may have, or there is something that is troubling him to such an extent that, it has made him feel "sick at heart." ...read more.


He is actively engaging the readers and audiences attention, without them even knowing of it. Following on from the disease imagery, Hamlet says such a phrase in his soliloquy, which if studied carefully informs the readers of what the distorted youthful Hamlet if feeling. His repugnance for his mother marrying his fathers brother so soon after the funeral of her late husband, Hamlets father, has caused him to feel so disheartened that he believes the only way out of this misery would be if he does what is mentioned in the following quotation said by Hamlet himself; "O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew." This immediately creates an image of a person, in this case, young Hamlet standing alone, mourning his father's death, looking so depressed at the same time, disgusted by his mother's hasty decision of marrying her late husband's brother soon after the funeral. Then all of a sudden, Hamlet; melting and vanishing into something so small, which will vaporise, dissolve and never be seen of or heard of ever again, as if it never existed. This image creates a definite image of disease in the mind of the readers. Therefore in effect, makes the reader realise how upset this young man really is by the whole scenario. ...read more.


Secondly, this ghost has informed young Hamlet, his son, the cause, in this case the murder committed by his uncle who is now the king. This is now seen as the most important form of corruption that has taken place through out the play. The fact that the present king, Claudius only became king, because he ruthlessly murdered his brother to seek the throne, on which he now sits as king! The readers and audience feel disgusted by what they have just heard and also want young Hamlet to take revenge for his father's death. Overall, I come to a conclusion, that the fact that Claudius the present king murdered his brother the previous king is the biggest form of corruption in the play. To me it is the backbone for all the events that will follow; it is the main cause of all the problems that are occurring. If Claudius hadn't murdered himself, then Hamlet would not want to melt into a dew, his mother would not have married Claudius, everything would have been just fine. Corruption seems to be the main theme of the play and disease follows on from that. However the imagery of disease only arises through corruption. If there had been no corruption in the play from the beginning, then there would have not been any disease imagery, Hamlet would not have felt like vanishing and melting and Francisco would not have felt "sick at heart." ...read more.

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