Hmalet Themes

Hamlet: Prince of Denmark

Key Themes:

Disease and Death imagery:
  * “I am sick at heart” begins the corruption and disease imagery
  * “vile and loathsome crust”
  * “tis an unweeded garden which grows to seed things rank and gross in nature”
  * “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”
  * “Oh my offence is rank, it smells to heaven”
  * Claudius likens Hamlet to s disease- describing him as “the hectic in my blood”
  * Hamlet claims that Claudius is a “canker of our nature”
  * The use of poison symbioses the corruption of the Danish Court- considered an especially heinous crime, the practise of evil foreigners
  * Gravedigger scene- emphasis on death and decay. Hamlet expresses disgust at the physical corruption that follows death “Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,/ might stop a hole, to keep the wind away”
  * Characters draw explicit connections between the moral legitimacy of a ruler and the health of the nation. Denmark is frequently described as a physical body made ill by the moral corruption of Claudius and Gertrude, and many observers interpret the presence of the ghost as a supernatural omen indicating that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (I.iv.67).
  * Caroline Spurgeon noted that “rank” occurs multiple times throughout the play. These image clusters enhance the sense of corruption throughout the play and serve to link certain parts together. Spurgeon identified that a “number of images of sickness, disease... the idea of an ulcer or tumour, as descriptive of the unwholesome condition of Denmark morally”
  * Shattered by his mother’s decision to marry Claudius so soon after her husband’s death, Hamlet becomes cynical about women in general, showing a particular obsession with what he perceives to be a connection between female sexuality and moral corruption.
  * This motif of misogyny, or hatred of women, occurs sporadically throughout the play, but it is an important...