The Vile Weed of Corruption
Much like the universe, Hamlet’s character, as presented in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is far from static. His character traits are transformed as he is presented with difficult tasks and decisions in his fight against the ongoing corruption that is so prevalent in his world. At the opening of the play Hamlet is shown to be a character of great depression, who wants nothing more than to “resolve into a dew” as if he had never existed (1.2.130). Hamlet proclaims, “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world”(1.2.133-134). In contrast, a changed Hamlet, near the closing of the play, shouts in a dying voice, “Thou livest; report me and my cause aright? and in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, to tell my story”, showing how Hamlet’s character has been altered from a man who wants nothing more than to die unnoticed to a man that wishes to become immortal through the story of his rightful vengeance (5.2.313-323). Hamlet, however, does not change over night. He travels a long road, battling the corruption that is present all around him the whole way, until Hamlet eventual becomes corrupt himself.
In the first four scenes of the play it appears that Hamlet’s severe depression and urge to wither away may never be lifted. Hamlet protests to the royal Queen, his mother, “Seems, madam! Nay it is; I know not “seems”” describing that his sorrow brought about by his father’s death is indeed real and it will not easily be carried away (1.2.76). As Hamlet speaks forcefully to his mother about what seems to be he reveals one of the most underlying themes of the play, reality versus fiction. This theme, however unimportant it may seem now, will play on through out the script to further Hamlets transformation in character.
At this point in the play the viewer is readily convinced that Hamlet is incapable of effectively accomplishing anything, but sulking. This opinion of Hamlet is, however, quickly changed as Hamlet confronts the ghost of his father, the former King of Denmark. The interaction King Hamlet’s ghost and Hamlet marks the starting point of Hamlet’s metamorphosis, for King Hamlet presents Hamlet with a charge to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5.25). Hamlet, idolizing his father as “so excellent a king” and even comparing him to a “hyperion”, accepts this charge and thus makes it his obsession to kill the murderer of this noble father, Claudius, the new ruler of Denmark (1.2.139).
In the conversation between King Hamlet and his son the prevalent theme of corruption is firmly established along with the widely used motif of poison. In the first scene of the play it was hinted that Denmark in some way is fraudulent for “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”