Corruption in Shakespeare’s Hamlet


Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a suitable example on how corruption rapidly can be spread and result in many horrible actions. Corruption is an essential theme in Hamlet. In the beginning the corruption is rather small and isolated, but later on it is spread and cost the lives of nine people in the story.
The beginning of the corruption is first of all the murder of king Hamlet by his own brother Claudius. The corruption is very clear because Claudius solely kills the king/his brother so that he can take over the throne and furthermore get married to king Hamlet’s wife Gertrude.
The fact that the natural order is being disturbed causes that the dead king’s ghost wanders around Elsinore during the night. When Hamlet discovered that, he is ready to avenge his father’s death. From that moment the corruption grows until everybody has ‘finished their job’.

Hamlets ‘job’ is now to kill Claudius so that his father can rest in peace. Hamlet’s madness is frightening Polonius because he is convinced that it is connected to Hamlet’s love to his daughter Ophelia. Therefore Polonius and Claudius keep a watchful eye on him and Ophelia. Meanwhile Hamlet has a watchful eye on Claudius, so that he can kill him at the right time. But Claudius is now afraid of Hamlet and his madness, and he arranges that Hamlet will be sent to England to be executed. Claudius has corrupted two of Hamlets friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to follow Hamlet to England. Even though Hamlets friends knows that Hamlet is to be executed, they will do as king Claudius has ordered. In that way Rosencrantz and Guildenstern betrays him.

In the mess of the corruption Hamlet kills Polonius instead of the king. Through the conversation with his mother, he believes that the king is spying on them, but it is Polonius, and therefore he is suddenly killed to Hamlet’s astonishment.

“A bloody deed; almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother” (III, iv, 27-28)
After Polonius death, Ophelia goes mad and soon after she is found dead in the river and they believe she has committed suicide. The corruption has now leaded to the death of the fifth innocent person.
After hearing about the death of his sister and father, Laertes is returning to Elsinore. When Hamlet returns to Danmark, Claudius and Laertes wants revenge, and therefore they arrange a duel between Hamlet and Laertes. These duels normally were not fatal, but this time Laertes wants to kill Hamlet with his poisoned sword.

“And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
So mortal, that but dip a knife in it,
Where it draws blood, no cataplasm so rare” (IV, vii, 140-143)
Furthermore Claudius has poisoned Hamlets drink and he wants to make a toast for him, but Hamlet disappoints him by refuse to drink. Tragically Queen Gertrude takes the poisoned drink and makes a toast for her son Hamlet. Claudius doesn’t stop her and she dies a pitiless death. Hamlet realizes that Claudius is guilty in the death of his mother and he forces the king to suffer the same death as her by drinking the same poisoned drink. Meanwhile Hamlet and Leartes also are dying because they both are wounded by the poisoned sword.
When Hamlet kills Claudius, he has avenged his father and finished his goal. After the death of Claudius, Leartes and Hamlet, the corruption is finally over.