Essay on Hamlet: Hamlet and Ghost

Submitted By jennabelitzky
Words: 1116
Pages: 5

Decay is a gradual deterioration, or the state of declining in excellence, prosperity and health. The unpleasant relationships between many of the characters in Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, are in a state of decay. Images of both disease and decay are used in the play to create the destructing atmosphere, and to further enrich the theme of the reversal of moral order The degradation of Denmark, seen throughout the play is an indication of the moral rottenness that is infecting the state. Although Hamlet intends to act insane, in reality, he ends up actually being insane. This can be viewed as disease. Also, poison plays a significant role as a symbol of disease and decay as the lies that it creates often leads to destruction. The disease imagery in Hamlet accentuates the decay that is caused by the corrupt and insane actions of the characters against the order of Denmark.

The merciless state of Denmark is described through the use of disease and decay imagery. The theme of political and moral corruption is introduced when Marcellus, Horatio and Bernardo discuss the ghost of King Hamlet. During this discussion, Horatio states, “This bodes some strange eruption to our state” (I:I:80). Horatio believes that this foreshadows Denmark is in for some hard times. Assuming something bad will erupt in the state of Denmark, the guards become extremely worried about the rest of the state becoming infected. . Denmark can be viewed as a genuine body that has been contaminated by the ethical shortcomings of Claudius and Gertrude, and readers often see the ghost as a supernatural omen. After Hamlet has seen the ghost he leaves, and Marcellus says “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” (I:IV:94) This line refers to the idea that the ghost foreshadows that something bad is going to happen in the state of Denmark. This could indicate either good or evil. It could also apply to the greater theme of the relation between the moral legality of a ruler and to the mental wellness of the state. The ghost is an apparent figure of foreshadowing of the infectious disease and decay in the state of Denmark.


Hamlet’s insanity throughout the entire play has persuaded him to act against the moral order, and can be seen as a disease. He is a well-liked decent character in a bad world, whom wants to avenge his father’s death. He is first seen acting against the moral code when he kills Polonius. During a conversation with his mother, Hamlet says, “On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares. His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones, would make them capable. Do not look upon me, lest with this piteous action you convert my stern effects. Then what I have to do will want true color-tears perchance for blood” (III, IV, 142-138). Hamlet is the only one who can hear and see the ghost, which indicates that he has collapsed and lost his mind due to his insanity. The initial madness is first seen when Hamlet begins to follow the ghost that he believes it is his father, King Hamlet. Subsequent to the ghost telling Hamlet that Claudius has murdered his father, he starts planning his next moves and says, “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself, (As perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on)” (I:V:170-173). Hamlet is telling his friends that he is going to put on an “antic disposition” which means he is going to act insanely crazy.. Hamlets antic disposition is rather convincing and leads to major controversy in the play, as to whether or not Hamlet is actually insane. . In acting against the moral order, Hamlet’s disease of insanity, primarily caused by the ghost of his father is where his downfall stems.


Irony is created with the symbolic use of poison in the play. Poison is also a prominent representation of disease and decay. It is used as imagery when referring to the lies and behavior of King Claudius, as well as the actual poison used by Claudius. The audience quickly learns about poison upon hearing