The Rot of the Royal Court in William Shakespeare's 'Hamlet': Critical Analysis Essay

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In Marcellus's warning, “Something is rotting in the State of Denmark”, the public acknowledges that the changing and seemingly unstable royal court's view has influenced the way perceived by the rest of Danish society. Guardians are unstable because the monarchy is unstable. Along with Horatio, Hamlet quickly realizes the reason “All is not well” – the ghost, the “soul in his father's arms”, an unstable spirit.

Shakespeare shows Claudius' behavior from his opening speech as authoritarian and trying to negotiate a complicated political situation, but almost confidently accepting a strangely quick and final enthronement. “Your best mind has been free to follow this love affair – for all, thank you”. The advice system for advice was cleverly bypassed by Claudius and also seemed rotten. It is Claudius' behavior throughout the play that is at the heart of the corruption in the court. The public quickly learns from Hamlet that he is an unworthy king, and dissonance to old King Hamlet, “Hyperion to a satyr”, with Shakespeare's metaphor depicting Claudius as a half-man, half-goat with a libido. Insatiable, the one who could not resist his incestuous impulses towards Gertrude. He plots and plots, then in the room we see the depth of his alienation as it enters his mind, as we learn that he can't seem to pray, admitting: “Oh, my offense is hierarchical, it smells paradise”, and desperate. Rhetorical questions arise when he asks “What form of prayer can be used in my turn?”. The audience is urged to empathize with the villain as he pleads for repentance for his actions, but he is unable to do so. His heart had become really rotten - “heart as black as death”. It may have to do with the interest in how the English court might have turned out after all the rebellious plots of James I and the Earl of Essex behind the scenes in the last years of his life.

Gertrude's behavior, although criticized by Hamlet in the play as perverse, is more likely to be seen by the audience as naive as anything else. It seemed that she had no idea that Claudius was the killer of her late husband, and if anything was in the interest of the country to get married soon after the death of old King Hamlet. This was directly related to the fear of the country at the time of what would happen if Elizabeth died unmarried and without getting an acceptable successor to the throne. It is possible that a real civil war will break out. Garland mentioned, “The whole room is informed by the uncertainty created by threats to British succession”, and this certainly seems relevant when one remembers Fortinbras's threat to Denmark at the start of the play.

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Shakespeare presents Hamlet as unforgivable and his attack on his mother in her bedroom is ruthless; the interesting staging here of Shakespeare perhaps highlights the idea that Hamlet was invading his private territory as well as his mind! He spoke of her “indulging in corruption, making love in a bad cage”. This humble beast image shows how he feels his mother has become corrupt, and she even admits that she has “black spots and guts” in her soul. Some might argue that corruption comes both internally and externally. The attack on women does not end there as Hamlet attacks Ophelia because she allows herself to be a pawn in the Claudius and Polonius conspiracy, and also eliminates all women due to their corrupt nature (thus that their makeup preferences!). “God gave you are one face, and you turn into another”, something maybe a symptom of a rotten and unworthy court confidence in general. Hamlet saw that his old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, also turned their backs on him. He appeared to be plagued with debauchery in court no matter which way he turned around, and he was affected by it, often becoming aggressive and obscene during his interactions with Ophelia during the room, “Can I lie down on your knees?”. Such displeasure may be Shakespeare's reference to the Puritans of the time, who sought to shut down gambling dens as they were often venues for gambling, alcohol, and other forms of behavior.

Wilson Knight said, “He [Hamlet] really was a poison in the veins of the community”, but I'm not sure if I completely agree. Ironically, our sympathy for Hamlet comes as he continues his late duel with Laertes, unaware of what lies ahead. He didn't become a participant in any devious behavior (other than sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths), resolved to only seek the truth, and finally seemed to accept the fate that would befall him. Come to him.

To conclude, the royal court is certainly rotten with insidious intrigues and despicable conduct rife; Hamlet is carried away but does not fully succumb to immorality, and he dies who, in the words of Horatio, “proved to be the most royal”, in the true and noble sense of the word!

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The Rot of the Royal Court in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’: Critical Analysis Essay. (2023, October 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-rot-of-the-royal-court-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet-critical-analysis-essay/
“The Rot of the Royal Court in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’: Critical Analysis Essay.” Edubirdie, 26 Oct. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/the-rot-of-the-royal-court-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet-critical-analysis-essay/
The Rot of the Royal Court in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’: Critical Analysis Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-rot-of-the-royal-court-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet-critical-analysis-essay/> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2024].
The Rot of the Royal Court in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’: Critical Analysis Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Oct 26 [cited 2024 Apr 17]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-rot-of-the-royal-court-in-william-shakespeares-hamlet-critical-analysis-essay/
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