Rottenness, jealousy and greed

In the play Hamlet, Marcellus speaks out the famous line: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” as he and Horatio debate whether or not to follow Hamlet and the ghost into the night. What does he mean by this? Is there really something rotten in Denmark? I think that in the play there definitely is something rotten in the state of Denmark. I also believe that Claudius is the main cause of this rottenness. He’s an evil king and an evil king can’t take good care for his own country and people.

In my believe Marcellus’s line can refer to the idea that the ghost is a bad omen for Denmark and to the larger theme of the connection between the moral legitimacy of a ruler and the health of the state as a whole. In that way the ghost is a visible symptom of the rottenness of Denmark caused by Claudius.

Moreover Marcellus is by saying that something is rotten in the state of Denmark literally referring to the conversation he had with Horatio and the guard in Act I about the preparations for war against Norway and the appearance of the ghost which, they believe, has come in relationship to that event. Unknown to him at this point is the irony of that statement. The ghost is a bad omen, but not only for the upcoming war. There is something more rotten in Denmark and that something is Claudius. He killed his own brother because of his jealousy and also the greed for his brother's wife.

Hamlet compares the kingdom of Denmark to an unweeded garden "That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely."  This metaphor suggests that Denmark is not being taken care of under the leadership of the new King, who so quickly after his brother’s death married Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude. King Claudius in this is a weed, and weeds will overtake all of the "goodness" of the garden (Denmark). At this point in play Hamlet doesn't know yet that Claudius killed King Hamlet. He is upset about the incestuous nature of the...