Discussion on Corruption in Hamlet

Corruption in Hamlet

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, corruption is portrayed as the most outstanding theme. Its impacts and relevance cannot be sidelined. Corruption should be checked within the society as its effects are way adverse. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (Hamlet 90). No nation is entirely free from corruption. If the intensity of corruption is high, it might lead to bad governance and decay of the morals of a person and society at large. In the play, Hamlet, corruption is seen as a disease that plagues the Denmark and the people living within it. It is present due to the moral decay of the characters involved. Starting with the leaders to the normal citizens, Denmark falls in the plague of corruption that eats her up at the end. According to Shakespeare, thirst for power and greed have become a stronghold of entertaining corruption. Corruption is implemented through manipulation and exploitation of the under privileged in society. It thrives well is states when the rich controls the authority and there is no one to raise the issue to. In Hamlet, corruption is represented with greed, revenge and manipulation by those in power. The character Polonius is the most corrupt among other characters. Other characters such as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are seen blindly falling in the inceptions of corruption, manipulation. Prince Hamlet pretends to be mad in order to throw off Claudius, but in the act, he become truly mad.

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Selfishness and greed are the basic foundations of corruption. Claudius has thirst for power, which made him murder his brother so he can take over the throne. This claim is proved by what the ghost said, “the fat weed that roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf” (Hamlet 33). The ghost says these words when comparing Claudius as the fat weed that will ruin the garden of Denmark. Claudius even influences Gertrude to make her marriage sinful. The marriage corrupt her morals and she does not know how her actions would will negatively affected Hamlet. Moreover, her actions deny the late king his peace, making his spirit to stay in purgatory. The ghost is obsessed with revenge and influences Hamlet to avenge on its behalf. It is proven when the ghost says, “If thou didst ever thy dear father loverevenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Hamlet 24). The said statement proves how the ghost played a role of corrupting Hamlet. It makes Hamlet to dedicate his entire life in avenging his father’s death. The ghost manipulates him and makes him believe avenging his father was a right thing to do as a son. It corrupts his entire life Greed follows corruption closely and these two becomes the popular themes in Hamlet.

Manipulation and blind loyalty are some of the tools that are used to corrupt one’s morality. Ophelia is completely submissive to Polonius and responds to him without asking any questions. For instance, Ophelia gives away the love letters she received from Hamlet. This act shows that she did not appreciate the love and care that Hamlet had for her. Additionally, Polonius’ corruption stains the innocence of Ophelia when she agreed to let her father spy on the conversation she had with Hamlet. She was manipulated by Polonius and he made her act like her servant that would anything asked of her. Similarly, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz allow themselves to be controlled and manipulated by following the crown blindly. It is proved by the quote; “But we both obey and here give up ourselves in the full bent, to lay our services freely at your feet to be commanded” (Hamlet 29). It also proved that they did not value their friendship with Hamlet. Again, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s blind loyalty is portrayed when they knowingly accept and agree to send Hamlet to death. Moreover, Laertes is furious when he returns and hearing the death of his father. His emotions are easily manipulated by Claudius. Laertes becomes another victim of Claudius’ corruption and his morals changes radically. It is evident when he states that he will, “cut his throat in the church” (Hamlet 127), referring to Hamlet. Claudius corruption influence is proved haunting as it convinces Laertes to betray everything he stood for and his morals, he agrees to kill Hamlet. Corruption is seen growing through false and blind loyalty, with manipulation.

Revenge is another form of corruption. It leads one’s mind to madness. Revenge takes over Hamlets life, he abandons his ambitions, morals, beliefs, and embark a task in revenging his father’s death. This makes his mind ill with madness, resulting in spreading of corruption as described in the following quote, “Corruption is like a weed that grows and spreads, choking out the other plants that surrounds it” (Gospel 45). In the end, he necessitates revenge making him unaware of his actions and without thinking it through, he kills Polonius. Hamlet proves these brutal actions when he states, “how now, a rat? Dead for ducat” (Hamlet 3.23). The vengeful actions of Hamlet leads to other characters to have corrupted minds and pushes them to a state of madness. The murder of Polonius leads to Ophelia becoming mad as well. She expresses her madness through poems about the death of Polonius. Example of these poems is when she states, “they bore him barefaced on the bier: Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny, and in his grave rained many tear, —fare you well my dove” (Hamlet 164). She was explaining her father’s death and how Hamlet lied to her about him never loving her, causes madness and sorrows. This shows the effects revenge brings to our lives. Hamlet life was altered all over sudden as he focused on avenging his father. Ophelia on the other hand, ended up hurt by the actions of Hamlet.

The theme of corruption is well illustrated by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Starting with selfishness and greed, to blind loyalty and revenge, corruption has had some negative impacts to the lives of the characters. The greed of Claudius leads to the growth of corruption in Denmark. The availability of false loyalty and the manipulation tools engine the growth of corruption. At the end, corruption evolves to revenge, pain, and madness. Hamlet’s corruption grew fast like a disease that ended up with countless deaths. Claudius practiced a lot of murders, including his own brother in order to gain the throne. Corruption a disease that has no cure, only people can change it by changing their morals and how they deal with situations. From the characters like Polonius, Hamlet, and Claudius, corruption is proven to end in death and misery. They allowed emotions to cloud their judgment and it was fatal at the end. It is evident that the cause of most of the murders in the play is motivated by the stagnant disease that the minds of the characters. For example, Hamlet judgement was altered and confused Polonius with Claudius, he ends up killing Polonius. The killing of another character proved to not being the best way to deal with adverse circumstances. Lies, deceit, murder, and disloyalty are the causes of corruption, and as expressed in Hamlet, they all lead to death.

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