Rotten in the State of Denmark: An analysis of how death and decay imagery is used in Hamlet
There is no doubt that the most prominent theme throughout William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is death. From the traditional signs of death, to the more complicated concepts like thoughts of suicide; death and decay are very prevalent throughout the entire play. All of these symbols cummulate to an overall of mood of darkness and despair. From the opening of the play, to the ending scene, death and murder cover the script and imprint our minds with gore. However, the imagery is not placed there on a whim. It is specifically located throughout to set a dark tone of death and decay. From the Ghost to Hamlet’s dark thinking and revenge plots, death and decay …show more content…
The Ghost, as well as being a focus of the play, kickstarts Hamlet’s revenge plot. Hamlet, as well as struggling with his father’s death and his own dark thoughts, struggles with how to go about his revenge. By killing Claudius, Hamlet will have fulfilled his father’s wishes and maintained his honor. Hamlet thinks that by completing his revenge, his life will have meaning again. However, he becomes more and more discontented with his task as his conscience makes him miserable until he can accomplish what his father wanted him to do. For the majority of the play, Hamlet appears to be unable to act on his wishes. Hamlet’s “obsession with death is a key factor behind his inability to act” (Pesta). He talks about death and decay so much, so that he is unable to think of anything else. This never ending stream of decay distracts Hamlet from his mission for the majority of the play. While Hamlet is dark and moody for the entire play, Claudius begins the play by showing “every sign of being an excellent diplomatist and king” (Knight). He protects Denmark and attempts to do what is best for the state. However, as he becomes more and more obsessed with ridding Denmark of Hamlet, he begins to crumble. Both Claudius and Hamlet become extremely paranoid of each other, while in the midst of their plans. In their exchanges, both men are wary of each other while trading insults that use death and decay imagery. During the search for Polonius’ dead body, Hamlet insults Claudius by saying that if he can’t find Polonius in Heaven, he should “seek him i’ th’ other place yourself” (4.3. 35-36). This is a sly jab by Hamlet in which he states that Claudius should kill himself to go check in Hell, because that is where he will go when he dies. Hamlet particularly enjoys insulting Claudius behind his back, using decaying imagery to compare him to “a mildewed ear” (3.4.66) All of these
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
Firstly, Hamlet is a play of a man by the name of Hamlet, whose father was murdered by Claudius, his uncle. Claudius murdered the king by pouring poison in his ear to claim the throne for himself. Hamlet is then told by a ghost to murder Claudius for revenge, and he struggles within himself for the length of play whether to do it or not. When Hamlet begins to hesitate it does more damage than good and causes a chain reaction of tragic events, and makes the readers question whether Hamlet is truly sane or not. Claudius’s corruptness begins to show when he uses his authority to order those around him to rid of Hamlet.
By having the Ghost speak in such a hateful, and passionate manner about Claudius and Gertrude, Shakespeare can convey Hamlet's feelings toward them without the need for extensive dialogue on Hamlet's end. Although Hamlet is nearly silent for the majority of his father's speech, it is clear by a combination of the little words Hamlet does speak, and his father's uninterrupted fury that Hamlet is enraged by this knowledge. The language used in the speech provides Hamlet with the reasoning which dictates his motivation and actions throughout the play and introduces the major theme of revenge, serving as a call to action for Hamlet. While the ghost heavily encourages his son to avenge his murder, he is careful to warn Hamlet of the dangers of revenge. He warns Hamlet not to wrongfully unleash his revenge on his mother.
And so am I revenged. That would be scanned, a villain kills my father, and, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (line 74-79). Hamlet believes that Claudius is praying and doesn’t want to kill him, because he doesn’t want him to go to heaven. This inability is the tragic mistake that hamlets creates, to his soon to be
In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the main protagonist, Prince Hamlet, is tangled with the theme of death. During the play, he presents how his life is surrounded with death after his father, King Hamlet, dies. Death theme is the most occurring theme Shakespeare writes about in his plays, which most of his plays have a very dramatic death ending and involve the death of the main protagonist. Throughout the play, Shakespeare presents the idea of life, which is the never ending cycle of revenge and death. Shakespeare starts the death theme with the death of King Hamlet, which stimulates Hamlet to seek for revenge with his various soliloquies considering death from various points of view and certainly leads to a dramatic ending.
He depicts his “solid flesh”, urging it to melt and “resolve itself into a dew (129-130). Shakespeare emphasizes his grief - he truly is upset. Hamlet even calls to “the Everlasting”, wishing he had not deemed “self-slaughter” to be a sin (131-132). His cries “O, God! God!”
Death is one of the most prominent themes in Hamlet, appearing in different forms. Shakespeare displays death through the suicide of Ophelia, Hamlet’s own thoughts and eventual suicide, and the murder of King Hamlet and Polonius. Hamlet displays suicidal tendencies throughout the play through his soliloquies. The first time that Hamlet contemplates committing suicide is when Gertrude and Claudius tell him that he has to stay in Denmark in Act one. “Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter!
Over the course of Hamlet, many of the main characters engage in role play as a mechanism to achieve their own interests. Prince Hamlet is one of these characters, and his act proves to be one of the most important aspects of the play. Throughout the play, role-play (especially Hamlet’s) significantly affects the plot, and ultimately strains the relationships between several characters. Hamlet is among one of the most important characters to engage in role play. In act one, scene 5, shortly after being told that Claudius killed his father, Hamlet tells Horatio and Marcellus that he plans to feign madness, and he says, “As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition
To test Claudius’s guilt, Hamlet adds a scene reenacting the murder of Hamlet’s father. Claudius abruptly leaves the play, and afterward, tries to pray. When Claudius is praying, Hamlet is considering killing him, but decides not to because he wants to kill him in sin so that he does not get a chance at last confession. They also all end up dying later in the story due to a sword fight and poison.
The death of his father really weighs Hamlet and it make Hamlet into a spiral of depression in which lead him to contemplate suicide. Basically, death and decay are two words which give an imagery about something that is rotten, become not existing anymore, and smelly. The theme suicides in this play, is symbolize by death and decay in its storyline and most of the action
The play starts with the death of Hamlet’s father and throughout the story, Hamlet thinks about killing those who murdered his father. Through Shakespeare’s words, “To be, or not to be,” it is clear that death is inevitable to the characters in the play (Shakespeare). We see the characters dying and being buried, for instance, Ophelia and Polonius. Moreover, the theme of death is present in the play when Hamlet plans the death of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. Therefore, the theme of death is apparent in Hamlet from the beginning of the play to the final
The importance of memory and remembrance of the dead in Hamlet can be examined in three facets. Firstly, through how the act of remembering the dead examines practices of mourning. The play is about what it means to remember, therefore tensions are created between characters when they choose to cope with the memory of the dead in different ways. Secondly, the importance of remembering the dead is that it fuels the actions taken in the play, as the events of the play are a fallout of Hamlet’s bid to remember his father. Thirdly, the importance of memory and remembrance of the dead is that the impact vengful actions have on the character’s of the play.
He has a doubt about what the ghost told him and instead of acting instantly to ravage his father’s murder, he starts to figure out about whether Claudius was guilty or not, as he says “I’ll have grounds more relative than this” (2.2.565) which shows that he is looking for enough evidence to kill Claudius. But Hamlet is a great
In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Hamlet is tangled with the theme of death. During the play, he presents how his life is surrounded with death after the death of his father. Death theme is the most occuring theme Shakespeare writes about in his plays, which most plays have a very dramatic death theme and most of time involve the death of the main protagonist. Throughout the play, Shakespeare presents the idea of life, which is the never ending cycle of death and revenge. Shakespeare starts the theme of death with the death of King Hamlet, which stimulates Hamlet to seek for revenge with his various soliloquies considering death from various points of view and certainly leads to a dramatic ending.
By declaring that his own brother had murdered him, the Ghost indirectly shows Hamlet the dishonesty of the world. Thus, this makes Hamlet wary of those around him even his own friends such as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Additionally, this discovery of his father’s murder turns Hamlet into an outcast, for he fails to trust others. Because he acts as an outcast, many people perceive him as a madman. These ideals of life introduced to Hamlet by the Ghost influence the actions and thoughts of Hamlet throughout the
Shakespeare presents death as an inevitable act of life, noting that all that is living must eventually come to an end. Due to “Hamlet” being a Shakespearean tragedy, the theme of death recurs throughout the play. Additionally, Shakespeare can be seen as using revenge as the main motive of a character’s murder, which makes “Hamlet” a revenge tragedy. The tragic nature means that by the end of the play, majority of the characters would have died. In this case, many of the characters have died due to murder or suicide.