Hamlet: Theme of Sickness and Corruption

27 Nov

The theme of sickness and corruption. Trace the imagery of disease and contamination that runs throughout the play, and relate it to the play as a whole. What is Shakespeare trying to accomplish with this imagery? What is “rotten in the state of Denmark,” and how can the mess be cleaned up?

Hamlet essay

Madness is basically a health condition which is actually difficult to recognize its authenticity or rather if it’s factual or not. In the Hamlet play by William Shakespeare, the actor Hamlet is seen to put on a jaunt character after encountering his father’s ghost and being asked to take revenge of his father’s demise. He is therefore seen to take up this kind of character so that he carries the mission in a less noticeable manner and this reflects why in the entire play his actions are frequently inexplicable. William Shakespeare seemingly leaves the addressees to come to a decision on whether the character Hamlet is really mad or he is not. All through the tragic play, Hamlet’s doubtful madness is discovered through his existent madness, contrived actions, as well as the responses of other people towards his insanity.

In quite a number of occasions, Hamlet’s insanity is noted to be real. For instance, Hamlet utters as he moves across the arras and apparently murders Polonius, in this incident; he is seen to think that Polonius is a rat, “How now! a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!” (HAMLET 3.4, 25). His insanity is no longer pretense when he fails to kill Claudius his father’s murderer and as an alternative stabs Polonius, who is the mistaken individual, in such like hasty manner. Additionally, Hamlet is seen to kill without even view of what really he is carrying out, and this phenomenon highly exhibits his failure of rationale for putting on an adventure character on. On the other hand, Hamlet may perhaps have suffered madness before even putting the jaunt temperament on. As apparent in the start of the tragic play, Marcellus together with Horatio are seen as trying to clutch Hamlet back, although he rebels. He thereafter goes on and utters, “Still am I called. Unhand me, gentlemen–/ Heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!/ I say, away” (Hamlet’s Antic Disposition 1.4, 84-86). Here, hamlet places himself at jeopardy and it appears that he does not reflect on the outcomes of the same. With the intention to stride towards the spirit and with no deliberation, his manners is full of rash and thoughtless, characters which can be associated to madness. His lunacy is further clear when he puts forward to his craving rather than reckoning through intimidating those who hamper him from making appearances to the ghost in accordance with his wishes.

Seemingly, in the play, there are other instances which reveal that Hamlet’s madness is somehow feigned. A case in point is when Hamlet interacts with Polonius. He converses that, “Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here/ that old men have gray beards; that their faces are wrinkled; their eyes purging thick amber and/ plum-tree gum” (Hamlet: Entire Play 2.2, 197-200). He is seen to employ his feigned insanity to his benefit so as to affront Polonius in some way by cunningly crafting the topic of his manuscript towards the unequivocal depiction of Polonius. His wits illustrate clearly that in real sense he has is not missing his rationale and therefore isn’t mad. Further compelling evidence depicting the pretense of Hamlet’s lunacy is when he is seen talking with his father’s ghost as Gertrude is nearby. Since she is unable to spot the spirit, she thus says to Hamlet, “Nothing at all, yet all that is I see… No, nothing but ourselves… this is the very coinage of your brain…” (Hamlet: Entire Play 3.4, 134-139). She thinks Hamlet is actually nutty, as she perceives him chatting to an empty space, hence thinking that he is exactly chatting to himself. Nevertheless, the spectators recognize that Hamlet in fact isn’t in fact lunatic given that they notice he is really conversing to his father’s spirit in the ensuing play.

Hamlet’s madness causes other people to reaction towards it. Immediately after Polonius is told about Hamlet’s insanity, he goes to Claudius the king and informs him to be the main reason behind Hamlet’s lunacy. Gertrude his mother has reasoning behind his son’s madness which she points out that it emanates from the loss of his father coupled with her speedy marriage to Claudius who is actually his Hamlet’s uncle. These different views concerning Hamlet’s lunacy seem to assume that his madness is harmless but things change when he kills Polonius. This makes King Claudius think twice regarding Hamlet’s madness and somewhat compare it to foul disease, “We would not understand what was most fit,/ But, like the owner of a foul disease” (Hamlet: Entire Play 4.1, 20-21). Therefore his madness helped him fend off his real intention which was to revenge his father’s death through killing the king Claudius.

It’s really hard to determine whether Hamlet was in fact mad but through his actions its true to point out that he portraits dual-ship  in the character of madness as some incidents reveal that he had a bit of lunacy in him while in others its evident that he was putting on pretense. Hamlet is seen to be under numerous psychological pressures for instance from the death of his father, his mother rapidity in marrying his uncle Claudius, as well as knowing the murderer of his father. This could have instigated mental illness thus depicting mad-like characters (Hamlet’s Antic Disposition, (n.p.)).



“Hamlet’s Antic Disposition – Is Hamlet’s Madness Real?.” Shakespeare Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

“Hamlet: Entire Play .” The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

“HAMLET, Act 3, Scene 4.” Shakespeare Navigators. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Essay & Research Writing


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