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Hamlet - Disease Imagery

  • Date Submitted: 05/26/2013 12:45 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 63 
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Hamlet Essay

The Shakespearean play, Hamlet is a tragedy about a king who is murdered by his brother and is to be avenged by his nephew. In the plot of Hamlet’s revenge, he finds the basis of a structure linking the beginning, middle and end of the play. The theme of revenge is thus central to the tragedy, and it is linked to the imagery of death, decay and disease - which are dominant. The word “image” generally stimulates a positive feeling; by using it, a poet or prose writer illustrates, illuminates and embellishes his/her thought. In Hamlet, Shakespeare’s choice of an image or simile at a given moment is determined more by the dramatic issues arising out of that moment than by his individual sympathies. This essay will specifically examine the theme of disease in Hamlet and more specifically in Denmark. Throughout the story, disease plagues Denmark and the people in it; shown through imagery that Shakespeare delivers consistently throughout the play.

In the opening scene, Horatio makes an stimulating statement: "As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood/Disasters in the sun; and the moist star upon whose influence/Neptune's empire stands was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse” (1.1.117-120). He compares the ghost as a possible sign of disaster or catastrophe in Denmark, as to what happened before the death of Julius Caesar.   From the start of the play, Denmark was tainted and wrought with disease that would eventually continue over the course of the play. In Hamlet's first soliloquy, he compares the state of Demark to "an unweeded garden/That grows to seed/things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” (1.2.135-137). Like a spreading weed in a garden, the world is being spread with disease, all starting with the incestuous marriage of Gertrude and Claudius.   At the end of act one scene four, as the ghost and Hamlet exit, officer Marcellus states "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (1.4.90).   The people of Denmark begin to realize...


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