Imagery(Or Motifs)In William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" Essay

1356 words - 5 pages

In Hamlet, imagery of disease, poison and decay, are used by William Shakespeare for many purposes. Marcellus' line in Act I illustrates the use of this imagery very well, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Corruption is rampant, like a contagious disease infecting the court. The atmosphere of disease serves to heighten the audience's disgust for the events that are taking place in the play. Secondly, disease leads to death, so the diseased society of Denmark is doomed. Because of this sense of doom, there is a slight foreshadowing of the play's tragic ending. The tragic atmosphere is enhanced by the motif of disease and decay. These descriptions of disease, poison, and decay help us to understand the bitter relationships, the anxious, chaotic atmosphere, and also the emotional and moral decay of the characters existing in the play.The image of decay is first used at the end of Act I to help comprehend the depression Hamlet feels in his first soliloquy about suicide. When Hamlet releases the words "O that this too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew," (I.ii, 129-130) he communicates how he wishes to not exist in this world anymore. An image of Hamlet's flesh rotting and combining with the soil is produced. At this moment, Hamlet's true emotions liberate, and his pain and his yearn for death can be felt. Hamlet continues to say "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on't, ah, fie, 'tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely."(I.ii, 133-137) Here, Hamlet feels that the world around him is useless and in constant chaos. By creating these vivid images of death and decay, Shakespeare lets us peer into Hamlet's soul and recognize his real underlying motivations.Claudius' relationship with Hamlet is harsh, for he harbors a great hatred for his nephew and even feels threatened and at risk when he is by Hamlet. Claudius says "But like the owner of a foul disease. To keep it from divulging, let it feed even on the pith of life."(IV.i, 21-23) Claudius speaks these lines when he is with the queen after the death of Polonius. The King says that he is the owner of a foul disease- Hamlet. The degree to which he despises Hamlet and his goal to prevent him from ruining this new life of his is unveiled. This shows us how endless Claudius' hatred is towards Hamlet. Claudius' extreme anger and frustration is displayed when he says, "For like the hectic in my blood he rages, And though must cure me."(IV.iii, 62-63) Claudius describes Hamlet as a vicious disease traveling through his own blood. Hamlet is trapped so deep in the midst of Claudius' utter hatred of him, that Claudius wants Hamlet dead. Only when Hamlet is gone, Claudius can be cured from this ghastly disease that he suffers. The images of disease express the genuine feelings felt by Claudius. Imagery highlights the poor, horrid relationship that exists between father and...

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