Death and decay often convey corruption within a story. The use of this particular imagery allows one to make a connection between the natural world and the nature of people. Throughout Hamlet, a play, set in Denmark, which was written in the early seventeenth century by William Shakespeare, there are several instances where one sees decay depicting corruption. Though this play is filled with massive images of decaying nature, it is also filled with images of nature in its beautiful state. Because Hamlet portrays decaying and developing nature, it shows one that it is possible to maintain a sense of self in a world that strives on corruption.
The first image of decay used in Hamlet was during Act 1, Scene 2. Hamlet states, “tis an unweeded garden, / That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely” (Shakespeare 1.2.134-136). In context, Hamlet, the protagonist, is upset with the world because of certain life altering events that have happened to him: first, his father is murdered, and his mother then marries her brother in law. Here, Hamlet is essentially saying the world is an unattended garden, where only weeds grow. This image is symbolic in the sense that it is the introduction of corruption in the story. Because of this particular quote, one knows that Hamlet is in a world surrounded by complete and utter corruption and chaos.
Hamlet is full of characters that succumbed to the corruption around them. Hamlet’s uncle/step-father, Claudius, is the most corrupted character in the story. He murdered his brother, married his brother’s widow, and took the throne from its rightful heir. Claudius even admits to his own corruption when he says, “O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven.” (Shakespeare 3.3.36). In context, Claudius is saying that his offense is so great that it is a sin against heaven itself. Claudius allowed for the corrupted world that he lives in to come in and take over. Claudius’ corruption was then nourished by his pride and his lust for power. His being and sense of self became a skewed perception to everyone that was close to him, even himself.
Though Claudius was the most corrupted character throughout the play, the most important corrupted character was Hamlet. Hamlet allowed for the overgrown garden of weeds to capture his mind and essentially drive him crazy. Hamlet was away studying at university for most of his life, and when he finally came back to his tragic reality he was ultimately forced to vow vengeance on his uncle for murdering his father. Hamlet, being the indecisive character that he is, allowed the corruption of those around him to lead him into doing things that was just not him. The ghost of Hamlet’s father states “I find thee apt; / And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed / That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, / Wouldst thou not stir in this.” (Shakespeare 1.5.31-34). In context, the ghost is telling Hamlet if he does not react to the news of his father’s murder then...