Death And Corruption In Hamlet

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Harold Blume said it best when he said, “Hamlet is deaths ambassador to us.” Throughout Hamlet, we have the images of death, decay, rottenness, and corruption pressed upon us. The imagery corresponds with the plot of the play perfectly, all culminating with the gravedigger scene. The corruption images illuminate the actions of the people in Claudius’ court, beginning with Claudius’ own actions. The beginning of the play lets us know that it is winter with Fransisco’s statement that it is “bitter cold” (1.1.6) This may be an allusion to death in itself – things are dead in winter. The guards speak of the ghost and we know right away that we have a supernatural theme, as well as a theme of death. In act 1 scene 2 we get the impression that King Hamlet has been gone for a while. Gertrude is already re-married and is happily out of mourning clothes. Gertrude even tells Hamlet, who is in full black mourning clothes, to cheer up. Good Hamlet, cast thy nightly colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not for ever with thy vailed lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust: Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity. (1.2.68-73) Hamlet does not feel that it is time for him to shed his wretchedness just yet. The impression given is that it has been a long time scince the death of the old king and only Hamlet still clings to his memories and grief. After everyone leaves, however, we find out all the sordid details about the new King and Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet begins the rottenness imagery right away when he compares the world to “an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature posses it merely.” (1.2.135-6) He is utterly despondent and blames his mother and uncle for not feeling the way he does. He is the one who points out that the old King, his father, has not been dead long at all – only a month in fact. He rails over the fact that his mother could be so fickle, marrying again so soon. The affront is ground even more sharply into his frail sensibilities when she marries his father’s brother, his uncle. The fact that the two of them could be so jolly so soon after the death of his father just staggers him. He predicts t... ... middle of paper ... ...ferences to death are true references and not just imagery. Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel? Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away: (5.1.192-7) Hamlet is coming to terms with his own mortality and realizing the true physical destiny. He finds irony in the fact that a king could become a meal for a peasant, a seal for a beer-barrel, or a patch to keep wind out of a dwelling. Hamlet shows us that life is to be viewed without prejudice. It does no good to go about life with only your own interests in mind. He saw the rottenness and corruption that comes of that and it broke him. He loved his father and to see him so maligned was heartbreaking, especially coming from those who should have loved him most. That revelation shattered Hamlets ideal view of the world.
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