Things are “rotten in the state of Denmark”. Find examples of this. Also, consider whether Hamlet’s actions ultimately help the state.I'm supposed to write an essay about Decay and...

Things are “rotten in the state of Denmark”. Find examples of this. Also, consider whether Hamlet’s actions ultimately help the state.

I'm supposed to write an essay about Decay and Corruption in the book Hamlet... so your help would be great. I just need some ideas and opinions to help me get started!

Expert Answers
jblederman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The obvious things that are "rotten" in Denmark:

King Hamlet was murdered. He had poison poured into his ear while he was sleeping in his garden.

Two months after the murder of the king (though the fact that he is murdered is known only to Hamlet, Claudius, and Horatio), Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, has married Claudius, who is King Hamlet's brother. Hamlet notes, in a fit of hyperbole, that the same food that was served at his father's funeral was served at the wedding.

The ghost of King Hamlet has taken to haunting the ramparts of the castle at night. The ghost tells Hamlet that the ghost resides in hell during the day, a place so terrible that it would drive Hamlet mad if he had the slightest idea what happened there.

Polonius, a duplicitous blowhard of a character who may have known about the murder, is now primary counsel to Claudius.

Decay: the sudden maddening of Ophelia. She goes from being a seemingly sane, obedient young woman to a mad character who may or may not have committed suicide.

Decay: the altering motivations and personality of Laertes, who goes from a doting brother and loving son to a vengeful character driven by rage.

Do Hamlet's actions help the state? Debatable, but things that cannot be debated:

The cancer of Denmark, Claudius, is eliminated: Hamlet kills Claudius by stabbing him with a poisoned sword and force-feeding him the poison drink. Claudius was directly responsible for the "rotten" state of Denmark, since he murdered King Hamlet in the first place.

The ghost no longer haunts the castle: Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, Polonius, and Ophelia are all dead. There is no one left to bother. This also takes care of the decay aspects for Ophelia and Laertes; in fact, Polonius' entire family has been wiped out.

A clean start and clean slate: all of the royal family has been killed. Fortinbras, who Hamlet admired as a man of action and decisiveness, is the new king of Denmark.

I would argue that Hamlet's actions do, indeed, help the state, as a new ruler has been installed, and no trace of the previous corruption exists.