Corruption in Hamlet

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About this sample


Words: 671 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 671|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Political Corruption
  2. Moral Corruption
  3. Impact on Characters and Narrative
  4. Conclusion

Throughout the play Hamlet, Shakespeare presents a world fraught with moral decay and political manipulation, where characters are consumed by their own desires and ambitions. Corruption, both moral and political, is a pervasive force that drives the narrative of Hamlet, shaping the actions and motivations of the characters. This essay will explore the theme of corruption in Hamlet, examining how it manifests in the play and its impact on the characters and the overall narrative.

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Political Corruption

One of the central forms of corruption in Hamlet is political, as the play is set in the politically volatile kingdom of Denmark. The usurpation of the throne by King Claudius, who murders his brother, King Hamlet, to seize power, sets the stage for the political machinations that drive the plot. Claudius's corrupt and tyrannical rule is characterized by deception, manipulation, and the abuse of power. His actions not only destabilize the political landscape of Denmark but also corrupt the moral fabric of the court, infecting it with his own moral decay.

Moreover, Claudius's corruption extends to his foreign policy, as he sends Hamlet to England with a letter ordering his death, a clear display of his willingness to sacrifice his own nephew for political gain. The pervasive political corruption in the play serves as a backdrop for the moral decay that plagues the characters, creating a world in which treachery and deceit are the norm.

Moral Corruption

In addition to political corruption, the theme of moral corruption is central to Hamlet. The characters in the play are consumed by their own moral failings, leading to a web of deception, betrayal, and violence. Hamlet himself is morally conflicted, torn between his duty to avenge his father's murder and his own moral compass. His feigned madness and manipulation of those around him are a reflection of the moral corruption that infects him as he seeks to fulfill his role as the avenger.

Furthermore, the moral corruption of characters like Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius contributes to the overall atmosphere of moral decay in the play. Claudius's murder of King Hamlet and his subsequent marriage to Gertrude, his brother's widow, are clear examples of moral corruption, as he prioritizes his own desires over ethical considerations. Similarly, Gertrude's hasty remarriage and Polonius's willingness to use his daughter, Ophelia, as a pawn in his political schemes demonstrate the pervasive moral decay that permeates the world of Hamlet.

Impact on Characters and Narrative

The theme of corruption has a profound impact on the characters and the narrative of Hamlet, shaping their actions and motivations. Characters like Hamlet and Ophelia are driven to madness and despair by the moral and political corruption that surrounds them, leading to their tragic ends. The pervasive corruption in the court of Denmark creates a world in which trust is a scarce commodity, leading to a spiral of suspicion, betrayal, and ultimately, death.

Furthermore, the theme of corruption serves as a catalyst for the events of the play, driving the plot forward and creating a sense of inevitability in the tragic outcome. The moral and political decay that permeates the world of Hamlet is a force that shapes the actions of the characters, leading them down a path of destruction and despair. Ultimately, the theme of corruption is central to the narrative of Hamlet, shaping the characters and driving the plot towards its tragic conclusion.

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Corruption is a pervasive force in Hamlet, shaping the moral and political landscape of the play and driving the actions of the characters. The theme of corruption serves as a lens through which Shakespeare explores the human condition, delving into the darker aspects of human nature and the consequences of unchecked ambition and moral decay. The world of Hamlet is one in which corruption reigns supreme, leading to a tragic and inevitable conclusion. Through the theme of corruption, Shakespeare presents a searing critique of power, ambition, and moral decay, creating a world that continues to resonate with audiences centuries after its initial performance.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Corruption in Hamlet. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“Corruption in Hamlet.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024,
Corruption in Hamlet. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
Corruption in Hamlet [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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