In Shakespeare's time, Denmark was a horrible, rotting, poisoned land due to its hidden deceit. In "Hamlet," Shakespeare makes many references to this as a means of clarifying relationships in the story. Writers often use imagery to provide detail and development, which help us understand ideas within and the atmosphere of the play. Hamlet, Horatio, and the ghost are the characters who allude to Denmark's state of decay. Shakespeare's frequent references to death and disease are not only evidence of the harsh and dirty living conditions of the time; they are a recurrent theme in all of his works.
Hamlet himself constantly references disease. After the death of his father and marriage of his mother, his mind becomes dark and he enters a grim state of being. Although cowardly at first, Hamlet becomes bent on avenging his father whose murder was "most foul." In one of Hamlet's first soliloquies, his downward spiral becomes evident as he is already contemplating suicide; "O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew (I, II, ...
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Shakespeare, William. The Tradegy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992
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Watson, Robert N. 1990. 'Giving up the Ghost in a World of Decay: Hamlet, Revenge and Denial.' Renaissance Drama 21:199-223.
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