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Disease and Death in Hamlet

The story of Hamlet, like almost all the other works of Shakespeare, is borrowed from the previous literary tradition. The tragedy Hamlet by Thomas Kidd, presented in London in 1589, didn’t survive, but we can assume that Shakespeare relied on it, when presenting his version of the story.

Shakespeare is the greatest poet in the history of the English language and its greatest reformer. Shakespeare’s words are fresh and capacious, and Hamlet strikes with stylistic richness of the play. Basically, it is written in blank verse, but in some scenes the characters speak in prose. Shakespeare is especially good at using metaphors to create a general atmosphere of tragedy. Critics point out the presence of three main leitmotifs in the play. These are the images of disease and ulcers that work on the creation of the third and main leitmotif of death.

There is a large number of images associated with the disease and bodily ailments in Hamlet; image of ulcers defines all the state of Denmark. Putrefaction, decomposition, decay in various forms are reflected in the images, penetrating speeches of characters.

The words of Hamlet’s father on how the poison breaks down his body are the leitmotif of the play as a whole. Poison poured into the ear by his brother Claudius becomes a symbol of the central problem in the paly. Decomposition of the whole of Denmark, the country and its people should be understood as a discreet and inescapable universal poisoning process.

It is necessary to take into account a dramatic context of each individual image – who uses it and for what purpose. Claudius also resorted to it. After the murder of Polonius, King says to the Queen that he was responsible for the behavior of Hamlet, or rather, that he knowing about his madness did not take any measures.

The images of disease, decay, and decomposition are used by the Queen herself for her own purposes, when she speaks of her sick soul. And even Laertes, warning his sister that the worm often sharpens the firstborn of spring.

Observation about the saturation of the tragedy with the images of disease and decomposition is generally true, as the statement that the theme of death takes a huge place in the tragedy – both in action, during which all the main characters are killed, and in the mind of the main hero.

The motif of death is present through the whole tragedy. It is embodied in the grave-diggers, in the character of Yorick, in Hamlet’s father who is the Ghost, and in the death of all the characters. These and other motives grow in the whole system, which is an important factor in the development of the plot of the tragedy.

The story of Hamlet, like almost all the other works of Shakespeare, is borrowed from the previous literary tradition. The tragedy Hamlet by Thomas Kidd, presented in London in 1589, didn’t survive, but we can assume that Shakespeare relied on it, when presenting his version of the story.

Shakespeare is the greatest poet in the history of the English language and its greatest reformer.

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100000769
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CREATED ON
30 July 2016
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