Shakespeare's tragic play "Hamlet" conveys several images of both sickness and
disease; these images support the theme of political corruption. This theme can be
examined by focusing on three distinct aspects of the play. These include: the
foreshadowing mood in Act I, the fact that all of the novel's corruption stems from
misdeeds of various characters, and Hamlet's wisdom and concoction for vengeance.
The foreshadowing images in Act I, which revolve around sickness and disease,
help devise the novel's central theme of corruption. Act I is critical in establishing the
mood and tone of the novel; more importantly, though, the central theme of both political
and moral corruption is evident from the start, and directs the course of the novel. When the ghost of King Hamlet is conversing with his troubled son, he tells Hamlet that "[he] could a tale unfold whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood...But
this eternal blazon must not be To ears of flesh and blood" (I.5.19-25). When the audience or reader is at this point in the play, they are completely taken in. This description is accentuated with the words "flesh," "blood," "freeze," and "soul," which adds to the general image of sickness. Though this "tale" is revealed and no one becomes gravely sick, it foretells the predicament to come, and the intricate situation that will bring Hamlet on a quest to rid his world of corruption. Furthermore, after King Hamlet's ghost visits Hamlet, Horatio is talking to Marcellus, who remarks "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" ( I.4.99). This prophetic statement is very important; the "rotten" or sickened condition of Denmark is becoming apparent to all, and prefigures a certain cleansing struggle to come. Moreover, at the opening of the novel, Hoartio and Marcellus are again...