The somber images of poison and disease taint the pages of Hamlet, and shadow the corruption pervading the recent and future events of the castle. The poison with which Claudius kills King Hamlet spreads in a sense throughout the country, until "something is rotten in Denmark", as Marcellus notes (I.4.90). Shakespeare shades in words of sickness continually during the play, perhaps serving best to illustrate the ill condition of affairs plaguing not only Denmark, but the characters as well.
Shakespeare immediately conveys the sense of cold and apathy in the opening scene. As the play opens in the cool, black night, Barnardo and Francisco are high atop the looming walls of Elsinore, keeping watch for the impending revenge of enemy Fortinbras (I.1). Midnight strikes and Barnardo notes, subtly referring to the sentiment of Denmark, that "tis bitter cold, and I am sick at heart" (I.1.8). Since the beloved King Hamlet has died and the Queen remarried, the morale of the people is low, and cold.
The act continues, and the Ghost appears out of the dark shadows (I.1). Horatio, who had doubted the men's earlier details of sightings, now contemplates the reasons for the Ghost's visit as the spirit disappears into the ramparts. He tells the men of King Hamlet's battles, and adds how the appearance of the Ghost reminds him of what he has read about the portents of Rome, just before the assassination of Julius Caesar. As "the graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead did squeak…[the moon] was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse" (I.1.120). Horatio believes that the vision of the haunting Ghost is a forewarning to Denmark, just as the pale, sick moon was to Rome an image of the ill events to come. Even future events are drearily portrayed to the reader, a sense of the power of Fortune. This force was also referred to earlier, in Hamlet's soliloquy of the "slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune", going on to speak of being "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought" (III.1.90), yet another image of disease.
Still in the opening scenes of the play, even men outside of the country can sense the rotting inside. Scornfully, Claudius says Fortinbras thinks "by our late dear brother's death, our state to be di...
... middle of paper ...
...is "rotten in Denmark?" Hamlet must be the one to accomplish this, but he is ill as well, contaminated with a sickness of thought. Though his madness is arguably feigned, this "antic disposition" reiterates Hamlet's lack of resolution. Throughout the play, Hamlet has opportunities to rid Denmark of ills, such as striking the kneeling Claudius, but he hesitates constantly due to the sickness of his mind. Thus, Hamlet seems to have his own personal theme of irresolution, quite a contrast to Laertes quick and passionate decisions, who if he were Hamlet, would have "cut his throat in church" (IV.7.127).
The end of the play seems to culminate each character's sickness into their downfall, with "purposes mistook, fall'n on th' inventors heads" (V.2.385). The deadly poison Claudius prepared ends his own life, as it does to Gertrude and Laertes for their ill trust of the malicious king; the obvious mental disease of Ophelia leads to her demise. Hamlet, the indecisive tragic hero and one character who could have ended the disease plaguing Denmark, is unable to do so because he is afflicted with his own illness as well.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Death, Sickness, and Decay in Hamlet Decay is defined as "a gradual decline; deterioration," disease as "any departure from health." Both have many forms: physical, psychological, social, etc. Multiple examples of illness and deterioration can be found in the tragedy Hamlet. In this drama, Shakespeare uses imagery of decay and disease and the emotional and moral decay of his characters to enhance the atmosphere of the play. The drama Hamlet abounds with images of decay and disease. Celestial bodies are described in this manner; in Act I Horatio says that the moon "Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse," and in Act III, Hamlet says that the moon is "thoughtsick" at his mother... [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet]
1527 words (4.4 pages)
- The Lone Germ Every epidemic starts with a single bacterium, or a virus, or perhaps even a stream of poison poured into the ear of a king. It then spreads outward creating disease, death, and decay. Is it not amazing how something with such humble beginnings can eventually break apart entire countries. Indeed, and it is the images of poison and disease that William Shakespeare uses throughout his famous play Hamlet to tie together the theme of destruction. The play is set in the country of Denmark between the 14th and 15th century.... [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Prince Hamlet]
1242 words (3.5 pages)
- William Shakespeare is a renowned Sixteenth Century poet and playwright, whom has written great pieces. His artsy has inspired multiple people around the world. Shakespeare has written great plays such as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Othello”, “Caesar”, etc. Many plays and movies have been based off of his great work. “Hamlet" is also one of his great plays. It is full of mystery, action and drama. Shakespeare also filled his plays with many different types of imagery. Reading the plays you will find many types of symbolism.... [tags: Hamlet, Gertrude, William Shakespeare]
1343 words (3.8 pages)
- William Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells a grim story of loss and tragedy. Unfortunately for those suffering from loss in Shakespeare’s tale, the tragedy is not natural as thought to be. In truth, all of the tragedy fabricated in Hamlet is caused by a single act of betrayal; the poisoning of Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark. Claudius, the brother of King Hamlet, acts as the administrator of the poison that physically kills King Hamlet, as well as the poison that seeps into the lives of the people of Denmark.... [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Double entendre]
1009 words (2.9 pages)
- Imagery of Disease in Hamlet by William Shakespeare The disease imagery in Hamlet serves to constantly remind the reader of the initial problem in the play: King Hamlet's poisoning by his brother. After hearing his father graphically describe the murder, it is constantly on Hamlet's mind. For this reason, many of the images that Hamlet creates in the play are connected with disease and poison. The literal poisoning becomes symbolic of the rest of the events of the play. Remember that poisoning through the ear can be taken literally or figuratively (through speech and lies).... [tags: Papers]
1589 words (4.5 pages)
- William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, written in the 1600’s, subverts the conventions of traditional revenge tragedies to explore the dilemma of Hamlet- a young Danish prince, who must make morally complex choices, after the ghost of his father exhorts him to kill Claudius in revenge. It is Hamlet’s restless intellect, which forces him into uncertainty about the ethics of the deed he’s sworn to do. Hamlet is a powerful and enduring play because of its central moral dilemma, which transcends political concerns of the Elizabethan period, making it a play for all ages.... [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Soliloquy, Ghost]
1280 words (3.7 pages)
- Imagery in Hamlet The imagery in the play of Hamlet is composed of disease, poison, and decay this adds to the overall atmosphere of horror and tragedy. First, hamlet uses images of disease to show the state of the country of Denmark and his mother. Second, the imagery of poison is used to describe his father’s death. Lastly, Hamlet describes his feelings toward himself and Claudius and his feelings toward his mother by using images of decay. In Hamlet, as in all literature, imagery adds to reader’s ability to imagine the feeling of the story.... [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]
503 words (1.4 pages)
- Images of disease dominate Shakespeare's Hamlet as well as Sophocles play, Oedipus the King, Both Hamlet and Oedipus face many problems with death. Hamlet is seeking out the killer of his father as well as Oedipus. They feel that justice hasn't been served properly and they must seek out the killer of their fathers' in order for justice to be served. In both Hamlet and Oedipus the King, there is mass turmoil amongst family relationships, the inner problems they face, and the lack of free will they had.... [tags: compare contrast]
641 words (1.8 pages)
- Hamlet Hamlet wants to wipe his memory clean, as one would erase a slate. All of the images he has of his mother and uncle are insignificant to him now in the face of their betrayal. He will erase those images in his memory so as to not be deceived again. With his memories erased, Hamlet will be able to properly avenge his father's murder. There are many images of sickness, disease, wickedness, blemishes on the body, and other loathsome things that are metaphorically descriptive or the unwholesome condition of Denmark.... [tags: English Literature Essays]
602 words (1.7 pages)
- Iterative use of vivid and detailed imagery in a piece of literature is often a way of expressing a theme or concept in a literary work. This is the case in William Shakespeare"'"s Hamlet, a revenge tragedy that continually depicts the vibrant metaphors of manifesting corruption and festering disease in order to auger the impending calamities in the state of Denmark. Throughout Shakespeare"'"s play, there are successive images of deterioration, decay and death. These images are skilfully accomplished through the use of metaphors of rotting and dead gardens.... [tags: essays research papers]
1060 words (3 pages)