Shakespeare's tragic play "Hamlet" conveys several images of both sickness and disease; these images support the theme of political corruption.
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Shakespeare's tragic play "Hamlet" conveys several images of both sickness and disease; these images support the theme of political corruption. This theme can be examined by focusing on three distinct aspects of the play. These include: the foreshadowing mood in Act I, the fact that all of the novel's corruption stems from misdeeds of various characters, and Hamlet's wisdom and concoction for vengeance. The foreshadowing images in Act I, which revolve around sickness and disease, help devise the novel's central theme of corruption. Act I is critical in establishing the mood and tone of the novel; more importantly, though, the central theme of both political and moral corruption is evident from the start, and directs the course of the novel. When the ghost of King Hamlet is conversing with his troubled son, he tells Hamlet that "[he] could a tale unfold whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood...But this eternal blazon must not be To ears of flesh and blood" (I.5.19-25).
This "eruption" of Denmark is symbolic of the political unbalance of the country. The aspect of political corruption, as seen through images of disease, can be examined through the perspective that all the novel's corruption stems from various character faults. Primarily, Hamlet's descriptions and conversations with Gertrude are what relay his distasteful regard for her. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet is conversing with the ghost of his dead father about Gertrude, who says that Hamlet should let "those thorns that in her bosoms lodge to prick and sting her" (I.5.93-94). Hamlet is instructed to avenge his father's murder, but not to get too intrusive, and to let Gertrude inflict the pain upon herself. These thorns "in her bosom" represent the deep moral corruption that she yields to and is involved in. Additionally, after Hamlet murders Polonius in Gertrude's chamber, Hamlet, in what Gertrude determines is a fit of rage, deplores her to not continue to follow in Claudius's corrupt wake.
At the conclusion of the play, after having seen Claudius flee, Hamlet cogitates about Denmark's situation, as well as his own. Hamlet explains "'Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood, And do such bitter business as the day Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother...My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites" (III.2.368-377). Diction is again important here; the words "blood" and "contagion" portray, once again, the motif of sickness and disease as a contributing thematic factor. This intense image of hell, sickness, and death solidify a clear image of the extent of the corruption in Denmark. Various images of sickness and disease support the theme of political corruption in "Hamlet." Three distinct aspects of Hamlet make this most noticeable; foreshadowing in Act I, the misdeeds of various characters directly causing corruption, and Hamlet's plans for vengeance. Despite the novel's focus on the corruption of several of the characters, ultimately there is peace of mind for Hamlet and a righteous finish to the troublesome chaos.
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