The moral state of Denmark in Hamlet.

Essay by highflying10High School, 11th grade October 2003

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A Rotten State

William Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet, is a story about a prince, Hamlet, who's father, King Hamlet, was murdered by his brother Claudius. Claudius then married Hamlet's mother making him the King of Denmark. Near the beginning of the play, an officer named Marcellus said: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (Act 1, Scene 5, ll. 90). This statement did indeed prove to be true, for there was much murder and vengeance going on at the time.

There was a sinister spirit of vengeance in the air. First it was Hamlet wanting Claudius' head for killing his father. He was definitely ready to act when he said: "A villain [Claudius] kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven." (Act 3, Scene 3, ll. 76-78). Later in the story, Hamlet killed Polonius. Now Leartes, his son, wanted revenge on the killer.

His vicious anger was shown when he exclaimed:

"To hell, Allegiance! Vows to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. To this point I stand, that both the words I give to negligence, let come what comes, only I'll be reveng'd most throughly for my father."

-Act 4 / Scene 5 / ll. 130-136

Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, also had revenge on his mind. He wanted to get back all the lands his father had lost. "[Fortinbras was] Importing the surrender of those lands lost by his father." (Act 1, Scene 2, ll. 23,24). Clearly, this wasn't a very peaceful era for Denmark and its people.

Characters were being murdered throughout the entire play and the killers often tried to hide their crimes. The first was the murder of King Hamlet by his brother Claudius. King Hamlet's Ghost uttered: "upon my...