The very purpose of any text is influencing human thought and perspectives on both their existence and the world around them. Shakespeare’s revenge tragedy, Hamlet, proves this point through its exploration of how the experience of corruption can have major negative implications on social structure and as well as an individual’s mental well-being. Notably, Shakespeare explores how political corruption in going against “the divine right of kings” results in the suffering of the entire kingdom. In the play, corruption and its affects reflect the tension existing between the contextual values of filial loyalty and Christian duty. This is because Hamlet is torn between avenging his father and as well as staying true to his religious obligations. His choice to perform revenge and to neglect his values essentially results in the corruption of his mind. Therefore, Hamlet is a didactic text that is designed to teach readers about the dangers of corruption both politically and spiritually.
Political corruption and its dangers are a central focus in Hamlet as Shakespeare desires to influence the audience to honour the authority and the king. This idea is highlighted through the unnatural imagery that runs throughout the play as seen in Hamlet’s first soliloquy about “an unweeded garden that grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature”. This pathetic fallacy foreshadows the kingdoms downfall following the murder of the king and it supports the idea that it is an unnatural act to challenge the divine power of the king, showing that political corruption can damage society. Furthermore, the effects of political corruption are emphasised in Hamlet’s statement “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. The high modality and strong word choice of “rotten” highlights how acts of treason can have a damaging impact on society as going against the king goes against Elizabethan values. Here the corruption of loyalty, a major ideal, of this period results in Denmark transforming into “a prison … for there is nothing good or bad that makes it so”. This imagery is significant politically speaking as a prison is a location of corruption and therefore by comparing it to Denmark through this metaphor Shakespeare suggests that an entire kingdom is corrupted when treason takes place. Hence, Hamlet explores the effects that political corruption can have on society to warn the audience against committing such acts.
Corruption is portrayed within the Shakespearean play as a consequence of following religious values. Hamlets contemplating whether or not to murder his step father, Claudius as a result of killing the king. Through personification of “for murder though it have no tongue, I’ll speak with most miraculous organ” to illustrate Claudius’s emotions in order to reveal his murderous ways in relation to the corruption of religious values in the Elizabethan era. After Hamlets realisation that Claudius had killed his father, the concept of corruption has been further implicated and evident through the dialogue “could force his soul so to his own conceit…” where Hamlet’s feels an urge to kill Claudius for his father’s death; although this is unbalanced towards the fact that it is unnatural to go against Christian morality. The simile “examples gross as earth exhort me…” also depicts the corruption to which Hamlets is motivated to avenge his father and make Claudius pay for his wrong deeds. Through the lack of following Christian values during the Elizabethan time, a consequence of corruption was portrayed throughout Hamlet
The major conflict in the play revolves around the character of Hamlet who by making a decision about loyalty to his father, raises questions about Christian morality resulting in the corruption of his mind as