What is the significance of the line "something is rotten in state of Denmark" in Act I Scene 4 of Hamlet? 

Asked on by carlet19

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This line, spoken by Marcellus as Hamlet goes to follow the ghost into the darkness, reflects the conviction (correct, as it turns out) on the part of all involved that the ghost's appearance is a harbinger of evil events in the future. Horatio has already surmised that the ghost's appearance may have something to do with Denmark's dispute with Fortinbras of Norway. Here, though, the line is significant because it is, essentially foreshadowing what Hamlet is about to discover, i.e. that his uncle is a murderer. It is also interesting in that it demonstrates the concern of people outside the immediate circle of the Danish royal court over affairs in Denmark. 


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