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Imagery In Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Essay

892 words - 4 pages

Shakespeare's tragic play "Hamlet" conveys several images of both sickness anddisease; these images support the theme of political corruption. This theme can beexamined by focusing on three distinct aspects of the play. These include: theforeshadowing mood in Act I, the fact that all of the novel's corruption stems frommisdeeds 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 themood and tone of the novel; more importantly, though, the central theme of both politicaland 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). When the audience or reader is at this point in the play, they are completely taken in. This description is accentuated with the words "flesh," "blood," "freeze," and "soul," which adds to the general image of sickness. Though this "tale" is revealed and no one becomes gravely sick, it foretells the predicament to come, and the intricate situation that will bring Hamlet on a quest to rid his world of corruption. Furthermore, after King Hamlet's ghost visits Hamlet, Horatio is talking to Marcellus, who remarks "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" ( I.4.99). This prophetic statement is very important; the "rotten" or sickened condition of Denmark is becoming apparent to all, and prefigures a certain cleansing struggle to come. Moreover, at the opening of the novel, Hoartio and Marcellus are again talking about their experience with the visits of a strange specter. Horatio observes that the event "bodes some strange eruption to our state" (I.1.68). The diction here is especially significant; "eruption" can be translated as epidemic or outbreak, relating to the integrated image of sickness. 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...

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