Hamlet Essay

“Let not the royal bed of Denmark be,
A couch for luxury and damned incest”

Hamlet is a play of crime and its punishment. Do you agree? Discuss

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play of corruption and the destructive power of an individual’s desires. This concept of corruption does also include aspects of crime and its punishment, however is not based around it. Such aspects of corruption include the duplicitous nature of characters, the destruction of Denmark and distortion of the truth.

Throughout Hamlet, corruption is evident through a number of aspects that includes the duplicitous nature of characters or doubling. Most high-powered characters, all through the play, show change of character when talking to certain parties. This is seen in the characters Polonius, a father that acts in certain ways around certain authorities. This shows the corrupt nature of the hierarchy. The way Polonius talks to Laertes, Reynaldo and Hamlet is considerably different. His fatherly discussion with Laertes is his advice to his son using sibilance, “Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel” and Hendiadys, “each new-hatched, unfledged courage” to emphasis his point. However, when talking to Reynaldo, he speaks of his son in a suspicious and untrustworthy manner, getting Reynaldo to spy on him. This idea of spying explores the theme of corruption and the notion of ‘any means necessary’. When speaking to Hamlet in the library, Polonius shows complete respect to the powerful and well-educated figure, ending all his questions and sentences with “my lord”. This use of repetition shows Polonius’ duplicitous nature and corruption and how he aims to be respected by all sides. The duplicitous nature of characters delves into the idea of corruption throughout Hamlet.

The motif of a diseased nation is continually represented in the play and emphasises the corruptive and power influences on the state. Many interpretations of the play believe that the ghost is a...