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What is the dramatic importance of corruption and disease in Hamlet?

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What is the dramatic importance of corruption and disease in Hamlet? There are many factors, which influenced Shakespeare to write tragedies such as Hamlet. Many themes suffuse the play of Hamlet but the most important which shall be concentrated on is that of disease and corruption. There is use of powerful imagery that is linked with the theme of disease and corruption as they are continually repeated throughout the play to make a point stand out to the audience. The play would have been immediately accessible to a Shakespearean audience because of this plot content. During this time there was a belief in the divine right of Kings where the king of that era believed he had the right to the throne. Furthermore, the mood of the time played a great part influencing the themes of the play. Corruption is first introduced by Claudius and eventually seeps outwards infecting the rest of the characters in the play. (Excluding Hamlet as he is perceptive to the corruption of others and does not let himself be corrupted). Claudius corrupts Old Hamlet by killing him and Old Hamlet symbolises the nation of Denmark, so it is slowly being corrupted and diseased, his decaying body represents this 'Let not the royal bed of Denmark be...damned incest.' ...read more.


He was also known to have been desperately paranoid as he thought witches possessed the land, thus giving the idea for Shakespeare to write a play involving the supernatural. He had chosen to write tragedies because he had already written a series of comedies and wanted a change of genre. Also the Elizabethan audience enjoyed the revenge tragedy. 'Hamlet' draws on a typical Senecan Tragedy. Seneca was a philosopher and playwright, he believed that a revenge play such as 'Hamlet' should always contain a ghost (Old Hamlet). Also that in the tragedy a character will have a character flaw and as a result of that flaw it shall lead to their death. Seneca's plays that were performed proved to be rather popular. Shakespeare used the Greek tragedy and themes to great effect in his work, no doubt earning the title as a great playwright. Marcellus, Francisco and Bernardo are all uneasy as they wonder if they will witness another apparition. The ghost is of much importance to the play as it is the tool of revenge. Act 1 Scene 2, Horatio confines the ghost as a 'mote it is to trouble the minds eye.' 'Mote' is a speck of dust so he justifies that even though the speck is small, once it reaches the sight of an eye then there will be trouble. ...read more.


Laertes asks for forgiveness with 'noble Hamlet' and then he dies. Rosencratz and Guildenstern have already been killed when they went with Hamlet across to England. As the audience knows Polonius died from Hamlet stabbing him and Ophelia drowned as a result of her madness. All these characters were under the influence of corruption (however the Queen only slightly) and now have all slain. This technique used by Shakespeare is called catharsis where the characters die to solve all problems. Due to Hamlets character flaw of hesitation and pondering on a thought for too long 'To be or not to be' (he contemplates suicide), he dies as a result of that flaw as in a Senecan tragedy. The play Hamlet brings up many themes such as Appearance against Reality, corruption and disease. The latter two have been entwined within the play as Shakespeare reveals corruption of a whole society and symbolises disease slowly injecting into Old Hamlet as it has done with Denmark. Corruption and disease are halted once Claudius is killed and Hamlet 'a larger than life hero' (Wilson) physically cuts out the root of disease. So both themes play an important role towards this play and without them Hamlet would not have been as intriguing or as successful. ...read more.

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