Imagery in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Literature is more than sharing ideas or telling a story. Authors try their best to present
their work in a form that will capture the attention and the minds of the readers. They try to use
techniques that can set their work apart from others and make them more memorable. As much
as food and diseases are used to add to the dramatic effects and to create characters, Shakespeare
uses the play, Hamlet, with various metaphorical references to the same. This essay discusses
imagery in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, and analyzes its meaning and importance to the play.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet presents a situation where the natural social order has been
disrupted. Where there was nurturing and sustenance stands destruction and decay. Shakespeare
informs the reader of this unnatural state of affairs by using food and disease metaphorically.
Marcellus says that,
” Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (1.4)
Marcellus is an officer of the palace guard. He says these words in response to the appearance of
the ghost of the dead king. On the surface level, he means that something terrible has occurred in
the country. He is not only referring to the ghost but is simultaneously referring to the
problematic state of the relationship between Denmark and Norway. When looking deeper into
the context and meaning of this phrase, one can realize that the word “state” has been used
intentionally to refer to the political element of the situation, since the play involves a lot of
politics. Similarly, the word “rotten” refers to political corruption, which is a recurrent theme in
Shakespeare uses imagery to add to the atmosphere. He does not only rely on the main
characters of the play. Francisco, a minor character, is used to further the theme of the play. He
“Tis bitter cold, /And I am sick at heart” (1.1).
Being a minor character, this is by far his most significant line. He implies that he is in low
spirits, but his state of being “sick at heart” is the earliest indication that there is something
wrong in the country. Shakespeare uses him as a red flag, to show the reader that something
bigger awaits them, something more serious than the sickness of one man. This line acts in
concert with the famous saying of “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” and gives an
account of the poor health of the country. It further sets the atmosphere of a neglected people and
provides proof of Hamlet’s suspicions about the corrupt na...
15 Million Students Helped!
Sign up to view the full answer