Decay and Corruption in Hamlet

Payton Kreger Hamlet “Hamlet speaks of his mother’s sin as a blister on the ‘fair forehead of an innocent love’ ” (Surgeon 209). This quote states that Hamlet disapproved of his mother’s actions. It is believed that her actions and those of his uncle is what drove Hamlet to his decay. Direct Quote (Spurgeon 209)
Payton Kreger Hamlet”This corruption is, in the words of Claudius, ‘rank’ and ‘smells to heavens’ so that the state of things in Denmark which shocks, paralyses and finally overwhelms Hamlet, is as the foul tumour breaking inwardly and poisoning the whole body.” (Spurgeon 211) This quote states that the crimes going on in Denmark- the murder of his father, corruption of his mother, and his uncle’s plan to kill him- finally overwhelm Hamlet and lead him to his own corruption and decay. Direct Quote Spurgeon 211
Payton Kreger HamletOne of the main causes for Hamlet’s decay and corruption is his mother’s remarriage. Gertrude, his mother begins to shut him out causing his bad temper and outrageous suspicions. Hamlet, at first, had no real hate for Claudius; it was after the marriage of his mother, not the death of his father did Hamlet begin to die inside. Gertrude’s adulterous crimes anger Hamlet more than Claudius’s crimes because Gertrude believes she has done nothing wrong. No one else in Denmark seems to have any interest in the marriage of Gertrude and Claudius except Hamlet. Paraphrase (Empson 82-85)
Payton Kreger HamletOne reason Hamlet delayed taking revenge upon his uncle is that he shared his uncle’s guilt and understood where he was coming from. Hamlet had a suppressed desire to kill his father and take is place in his mother’s love. This is why Hamlet treats his uncle like a rival when Claudius remarries his mother, thus taking away some of Gertrude’s love. The thought of his mother with Claudius, his father’s killer, strikes horror into his heart. The command to avenge his father’s death and the thought of his mother committing adulterous crimes with Claudius is too much for Hamlet to carry. Not knowing what to do about the crimes going on inside of the kingdom of Denmark causes Hamlet to become torn on the inside. This eventually leads to the decay of Hamlet. Paraphrase (Jones 211-214)
Payton Kreger HamletThe disease of Leprosy infects both the mind and body. Leprosy is said to cause the body to become filthy both on the inside and outside. It also corrupts the blood. Melancholy, bad judgement, corruption, poison, alienation, and impersonation are all themes of both leprosy and Hamlet’s actions. Summary (Vanhoutte 1-2)
Payton Kreger Laertes The death of their father Polonius brings different reactions to Ophelia and Laertes. While Ophelia chooses to bring harm to herself, “Laertes chooses ‘to be’ and takes up arms in order to end his troubles by killing his enemies.”(Alexander 2) The need to avenge his father’s death corrupts Laertes by making him think murder is the answer to his problems. This corruption eventually leads to his demise. Direct Quote (Alexander 2)
Payton Kreger LaertesLaertes allies himself with Claudius and helps kill Hamlet with poison when he finds out Hamlet was his father’s killer. Their alliance to kill Hamlet is successful; however, it leads to their own destruction. Laertes is forced to respond to unbearable pressures created by hate and violence in the end he becomes both hate and violent. Paraphrase (Alexander 3)
Payton Kreger Laertes The actions of Laertes are linked to the themes of leprosy, a disease that is seen throughout the play. Laertes becomes a man full of poisoned blood, corruption, and filth because of the need for revenge. Summary (Alexander 12)
Payton Kreger Laertes Unlike Hamlet, Laertes sees only revenge as the solution to the events that have unfolded. He is certain that his actions of revenge are justified and noble. Laertes breaks his code honor because he is so sure his actions of revenge are honorable. This leads him on a path to self-destruction ending in his own death. Paraphrase (Alexander 12)
Payton Kreger Gertrude “She is concerned with her present good fortune, and neither lingers over the death of her first husband nor analyzes her motives in taking another.” Gertrude sees no need to justify her actions in taking a new husband so quickly after the death of King Hamlet. Direct Quote (Pitt 46-47)
Payton Kreger Gertrude Hamlet constantly bullies his mother for her adulterous crimes and this constant bullying leads to her own demise. “He is jeering at the desires of the virgin which he is keen to excite and not satisfy, and this is part of what sends her mad.” Being told hateful things by Hamlet, the one person Gertrude loves and holds close to her heart, destroys her on the inside. Direct Quote (Empson 82)
Payton Kreger Gertrude It is believed that Gertrude did not marry Claudius out of love, but lust. Because of this, Hamlet continuously mocks her lustful ways and Gertrude laughs at him as if she had heard it before. Summary (Empson 82)
Payton Kreger Gertrude In the end Gertrude feels regret from her adulterous crime; however, it is too late because Gertrude is caught in the middle of the feud between Claudius, Hamlet, and Laertes.Paraphrase (Muir 214)
Payton Kreger Gertrude The relationship between Gertrude and her son were so strong that his disappointment from her corruption leads her to her decay. When Gertrude drinks from the poison cup, her last words are ” O my dear Hamlet” showing that the relationship between the mother and son remained strong even after their disagreement over her adulterous marriage. Summary (Pitt 47)
Payton Kreger Claudius “Shakespeare’s depiction of Claudius as a “treacherous, lecherous, kindless villian,” given over to lust and drink, is certainly consistent with a leprous disposition.” (Vanhoutte 4) The actions of Claudius occurred because he was filled with corruption, hate, and foulness. Direct Quote (Vanhoutte 4)
Payton Kreger Claudius Claudius becomes King of Denmark by secretly poisoning his brother. A few months later, Claudius marries the Queen of Denmark, which makes the crimes he has committed obvious. These crimes force Hamlet to come after Claudius for revenge. Summary (Alexander 1)
Payton Kreger Claudius “Claudius acts because, although he is aware that his conduct is neither right nor honorable, he intends to survive.” Claudius does not act because he believes the solution covering up his crime is justified or noble, he acts to save his life from the people who want to bring him to justice. Claudius’s action shows he acted to benefit himself, no one else. Direct Quote (Alexander 5)
Payton Kreger Claudius Hamlet compares Claudius to a cancer in that ever since he arrived, things in Denmark have gotten worse and have begun to decay. Paraphrase (Muir 214)
Payton Kreger Claudius When Hamlet returns from his trip from England, Claudius knows his plan for Hamlet’s death has failed. Scared he will be brought to justice by his nephew, he allies himself with Hamlet’s enemy, Laertes, and creates a plan to kill Hamlet. Summary (Muir 214)
Payton Kreger Claudius When Claudius knows his end is near, he falls upon his knees in prayer. He believes his crime of murder is recorded in Heaven and it is possible that God can offer mercy just like he offered mercy to Cain for killing his brother. Ironically, Claudius dies at the hands of poison just like his brother. Paraphrase ( Alexander 5)