Corruption in Hamlet

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Throughout the play we can see a progression of corruption, that finally leads to death. Like a 'disease', it spreads in the characters of Polonius, Claudius and Hamlet. Polonius is perhaps the most obviously corrupt character in Hamlet. His corruption has occurred long before the play begins; the progression is in the extent to which it is revealed to us. From this courteous, almost comically long-winded member of the court, emerges a personality that is first dominating (as he instructs Laertes: 'These few precepts in thy memory/ Look thou character.' [Act I, Sc. iii, 63]), clearly abusive towards Ophelia: Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl, Unsifted in such perilous circumstance, Do you believe his tenders, as you call them? . . . I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, have you so slander and moment leisure As to give works or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to't, I charge you. Come your ways. [Act I, Sc. iii 106 - 140] then meddling and subversive, as he sets spies on his own son, and finally irredeemably and ultimately fatally corrupt and subversive, as he schemes and plots around Hamlet. His death - physical corruption - is a precursor, signifying to the audience the ultimate fate of all those characters exhibiting signs of corruption. Polonius seems to be the most obviously corrupt character, but the centre of evil of the play's plot and of the kingdom is Claudius, as he kills King Hamlet. When Marcellus states, 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.' [Act I, Sc. iv, 90], it could be interpreted that he is speaking of a threat of war, but when looked at as symbolic, nothing could better sum up Claudius' corrupting effect on the kingdom which is brought on by his unpunished crime. His evil acts carry him to the throne and pollute the people around him causing chaos, sorrow and death. The image of rotting along

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