Corruption and Disease
In Hamlet’s soliloquy he alludes to the fact that Denmark has been ‘diseased’ by Claudius and his incestuous marriage to Gertrude.
Marcellus’ statement sums up the theme of corruption in this play. Claudius is ‘rotten’ and this is spreading through Denmark corrupting it and its people.
'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark'
‘Heaven will direct it’
King Hamlet’s body is literally corrupted by the poison. It takes him over.
GHOSTUpon my secure hour thy uncle stole With juice of cursed hebona in a vial, And in the porches of my ears did pour The leperous distilment . . . . . . doth posset And curd, like eager droppings into milk, the thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine. And a most instant tetter barked about, Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust All my smooth body
Denmark as a state is being corrupted by the lies told about King Hamlet’s death
GHOSTSo the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
A metaphorical first sin is committed, that which will cast Denmark out of its Eden-like state. Link to Marcellus' remark that "something is rotten in Denmark" (1:4)
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven.
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t –
A brother’s murder. Pray can I not.
HAMLETIt will but skin and film the ulcerous place,Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;And do not spread the compost on the weeds,To make them ranker.
LAERTESBut let him come; It warms the very sickness in my heart, That I shall live and tell him to his teeth, "Thus didst thou."