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"There Is Something Rotten In The State Of Denmark" To What Extent Is Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark, Responsible For Restoring Order In Denmark?

2131 words - 9 pages

Hamlet was written in 1601, a time when society was changing from the old feudal society, a society where the King held absolute control, affecting everybody and everything beneath him. Throughout Hamlet, the effects a corrupt King has upon his kingdom are portrayed. These changes foreshadow 17th century England and as such, the play is a metaphor for chaos witnessed in countries during times of extraordinary change. Notwithstanding this, the play is equally relevant toward a changing state today, as it was during Shakespearean England. Hamlet is the only constant character who defies decay, degeneration and maintains his integrity until the end. Hamlet, faced by corruption everywhere, enters the play a boy but exits a man.Hamlet decides his own destiny and is not corrupted, either by Denmark or his corrupt uncle. His resolution is clear from the beginning until his end - to restore order in Denmark. Discovering the truth of his Father's murder, he commands Horatio and Marcellus to never speak of the sighting, to say nothing about the ghost, and understand that he will:"…to put an antic disposition on…That you know aught of me - this do swear" (Act 1, Scene 5, Line 177 - 185)The trust between Horatio and Hamlet is constant throughout. When alone together, Horatio is the only character to whom Hamlet is his true self and in this, he trusts Horatio completely. Through Horatio the audience hears the real Prince of Denmark ordering both Horatio and Marcellus to 'swear' on oath six times, symbolising the loss of trust within the state. Such is the anxiety caused by the loss of the old feudal order, gone with the death of the old king.Hamlet lives with a sense of inherited right, perhaps divine right, to avenge his father and restore order in Denmark and learns that he must grow to make his own decisions." O cursed spite, That I was born to set it right." (Act 1, Scene 5, Line 195)Corruption is evident from the outset with Barnardo and Francisco on the battlements, watching for an attack from neighboring Norway. In these first few lines we feel the 'sick' and corrupt atmosphere in the state." Francisco: …'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart."(Act 1, Scene 1, Line 8)'Bitter' and 'sick', symbolise the grotesque corrupt court. Francisco's reference to his heart portrays the deep internal rot in Denmark. Drawing parallels between the court and heart, the country and body. Shakespeare emphasises the total corruption of the court. If the heart is sick, then the whole body is corrupt."Marcellus: There is something is rotten in the state of Denmark." (Act 1, Scene 4, Line 90)The image of rot is developed throughout the play. There is no respect for the dead as uncle and mother celebrate their wedding party, less than two months after the old King's death. Disrespect is also shown through the gravedigger scene which will be discussed later.During his first soliloquy Hamlet uses extremes of nature to symbolise the corrupt court."'An...

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