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Mack 1 Miranda Mack Ms.

Seiring AP English IV-5th period 12 November 2012 Corruptions Effect William Shakespeare in the tragedy Hamlet, written in the 17th century, presents a variety of themes through the use of dramatic and literary elements. One such theme is the effects of corruption, which ultimately results in the actions Hamlet takes throughout the play. Shakespeare wrote this play to show how corruption can have adverse consequences on the human condition. This tragedy follows the story of the Danish prince Hamlet, whose father is killed by his Uncle Claudius who in turn marries Hamlets mother, Gertrude. In the play, Hamlet struggles with this issue and its implications not only for his life but also for Denmark. Shakespeare uses Hamlets actions to illustrate how prominent corruption is throughout this play and to show how corruption of all the characters in the book can directly affect Hamlet. Initially, Shakespeare portrays the theme of the effects of corruption by creating the character Claudius whom commits crimes that have had the biggest effect on the play as a whole and how Hamlet begins his journey. When Hamlet is told by the ghost, The serpent that did sting thy fathers life now wears his crown (1.5.39-40), everything begins to go downhill. Hamlet had been mourning his fathers death and finding out that his father was murdered by his uncle leaves him extremely conflicted. What does Hamlet do next? How can he avenge his fathers death? When should he avenge his fathers death? All of these thoughts are running through Hamlets mind and he doesnt know

Mack 2 what to do. His uncle is a very corrupt man in his eyes and that only leaves Hamlet questioning everything because he doesnt even know if he can believe the ghost. This whole situation is wrong in many different ways and of all characters in the book the biggest effect is on Hamlet. Later in the story there was a play put on that was rigged to prove Claudius guilty in Hamlets eyes. After a specific scene that reflects how the ghost claimed the late king had died the king rises (3.2.250) and proceeds to nervously leave the room claiming, give me some light, away (3.2.254). This to Hamlet means that he is guilty of the crime that the ghost claimed he committed and he finally decides for sure that he wants to avenge his father. But of course with this certainty comes doubt because Hamlet is the type of person to just over-think everything. In almost every scene Hamlet is actively engaged in a duel with Claudius (Ornstein 502). This shows that Hamlet is always at odds with Claudius, there isnt a single time when they both agree on something and this is due to the tension Hamlet feels because of what the ghost has told him about Claudius. Hamlet is always conflicted when it comes to his uncle because he never really can choose on how he wants to handle this situation as a whole. And even if the ghost hadnt told Hamlet that Claudius was the kings killer then things would still be off between them because he married Hamlets mother. Hamlet killing Claudius is a corrupt idea and this is what the other characters actions have led him to believe is right. Next, Shakespeare portrays the theme of corruptions effect by showing how Hamlet begins to fall apart due to his mothers marriage to Claudius. Towards the beginning of the book Hamlet points out that within a month, ere yet the salt of the most righteous (1.2.158-163). This quotation shows how conflicted Hamlet is about his mothers marriage to his uncle and how he truly is struggling with holding himself back.

Mack 3 Hamlet is sickened by the incest they are displaying, which is kind of the cherry on top to his initial feelings towards the marriage. And holding his feelings back is breaking his heart, but he truly believes nothing good can come out of it. But is releasing his feelings morally correct? What is moral or immoral? Why should he keep this to himself? Is that the right decision? Hamlet is conflicted by the situation; he feels disdain towards the actions he witnesses but also doesnt quite know how to handle everything. Hamlet decides to hold his tongue (1.2.164), because thats what he decides is morally correct. But is that the right thing to do? The reader will never know but maybe if hamlet didnt hold his tongue the whole play would be different. Did Hamlet make the right choice? If Hamlet expressed his grief towards his mother then maybe he would have ruined everything for himself and his relationship with his mother. This marriage is wrong and critics agree that lust should not drive Gertrude to an incestuous marriage (Heilbrun 201-202). Due to Gertrudes age, lust should not be an incentive to get married, and since that seems to be a reason for the marriage in this critics eyes, this marriage seems very corrupt. This corruption is directly affecting Hamlet because of how sensitive he is towards his fathers death. Gertrudes corrupt marriage to Claudius had a major effect on Hamlets actions because he really starts to think things over and how pure his mothers actions really are. Thirdly, Shakespeare portrays the theme of corruptions affect by having the character Polonious as a sidekick type of character to Claudius. Polonious served as Claudius spy which resulted in his own death. While standing behind the curtain, Hamlet heard a noise and stabbed at Polonious causing him to die. Polonious assures Claudius beforehand that hell listen in on Gertrudes conversation with her son to see if hell

Mack 4 confess to going mad. Polonious is a deceitful character that only hopes to bring misfortune to others. Hamlet killed the man behind the curtain out of defense because he knew he was being spied on (3.4.24-25). So if the reader really thinks about it, is Hamlet truly in the wrong for this action? He couldnt see Polonious so he couldnt have known where he was stabbing so his intentions may not be so impure, but Polonious was sneaking behind Hamlets back which is wrong. This can also cause hurt feelings from Hamlet to his mother because she knew of Polonious presence in the room, betraying her sons trust in her. Ultimately Hamlet is slowly going mad because of the corruption that is making him feel alienated. Lastly, Shakespeare portrays the themes of corruptions affect by showing how corrupt Hamlet is just by himself. Hamlet is his own worst enemy and starts to think that everything he has done is all for nothing (2.2.584). Hamlet is very emotional and not only does it show in his actions but in his thoughts. He feels very melancholy and he finds no purpose in feeling this way, but he cant help it, so hes frustrated with himself. He is disgruntled and distraught and he truly feels theres no logic behind it. Hamlet feels that he shouldnt show his weakness because what can that do for him? It can only hinder him, right? He is confused internally, but theres no logical reason as to why it should show in his outward appearance. He over-thinks things which can help him in situations but can also hurt him. Hamlet puts his heart into his decisions and this is shown. But just because someone shows their emotions does that make them weak? What is it truly mean to be weak? Some may say that a man with heart is a man who is strong, but others might think that if a man can detach himself from what theyre doing, that makes them stronger. So its a matter of opinion ultimately. But Hamlet is against this which shows the type of

Mack 5 person he is. To be or not to be (3.1.64-72) shows the indecisiveness Hamlet has towards life also. He doesnt know what he wants and in this portion of his famous soliloquy hes questioning what will happen after death finally takes him over. And hes also questioning if taking his own life is a good choice. Is suicide really what he wants for himself? What he thinks he knows of the after-life seems reassuring, but would it be worth it to live? What will he do? Everything you learn about Hamlets thoughts and feelings after his fathers death seems to show continuous and tremendous experience of pain and suffering (Kirsch 17). Hamlet is a broken character and it can be seen clearly by the way he handles everything. He second-guesses himself constantly and can never seem to make up his mind. He is having a tough time getting through all of this turmoil and everything he does takes a lot of thought and consideration. Hamlet is depressed and at first his crazy personality is only an act but as the reader continues to read they can clearly see that Hamlet is going crazy. Hamlets indecisiveness and depression are a direct result of all the corruption happening around him and he has a hard time getting through everything. Hamlet as a whole is a book that clearly demonstrates the affects of corruption on a persons mental state. This affect that corruption had on Hamlet controlled how the whole play turned out. Hamlet had many opportunities to do things that would change the plays course, but Hamlets reactions to his surroundings made him indecisive and left him over-thinking everything. Hamlet goes through this play with many thought-provoking moments that are a result of the sick ways of the people around him. One way to interpret the play is by understanding the major differences in how people deal with events around them; whether its moving on to get over a lose or killing someone as a way to avenge

Mack 6 someone or something. A persons smallest action has the ability to change the largest things and when Hamlet is faced with corruption he slowly goes down a corrupted path himself bringing turmoil and death to everyone in the play.

Mack 7 Works Cited Heilbrun, Carolyn. The Character of Hamlets Mother. Shakespeare Quarterly 8.2 (1957): 201-202. JSTOR. Web. 17 Sept 2012. Kirsch, Arthur. Hamlets Grief. ELH 48.1 (1981): 17. JSTOR. Web. 14 Nov 2012. Ornstein, Robert. Teaching Hamlet. College English 25.7 (1964): 502. JSTOR. Web. 17 Sept 2012. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. 2009. Print.