“The main action of Hamlet is the attempt to search out and destroy the hidden imposthume which is poisoning the body politic of Denmark. ” Consider this view. In my essay I would like to focus on the actions of the characters of Hamlet and Claudius specifically. I will look at the efforts Hamlet made, both mentally and physically, to search for the truth about Claudius’ offences against the state of Denmark, and his father, and his struggles to find a solution to the horrific results of these offences, in order to restore order and to destroy the corruption that is poisoning the body politic of Denmark.
Also, I would like to take a look at how the actions of Claudius and the reactions of Hamlet left the state of Denmark at the conclusion of the play. Moral corruption is quite obviously bubbling under the surface in Hamlet. From the outset, there are references to adultery, murder, incest and usurpation, when the King informs Hamlet about what has been taking place at the head of their state. The fact that Hamlet’s family also happens to be the Royal family means that it is not just those immediately involved in the situation who have been wronged.
The ghost explains, that the actions of the new King have been an offence against the state of Denmark as a whole. The throne was at the centre of political life at this time, and as Laertes put it, the question of who was King, affected “the sanity and health of the whole state” Therefore, through the insight the ghost has given us it is clear that Claudius is not worthy of his new position at the head of the state, and that there must be an immediate stop put to the corruption.
The recent happenings have turned Denmark into a place were a murderer, Claudius, has succeeded in establishing himself as an acceptable substitute for his dead brother, and has also successfully persuaded the people of Denmark to support him in his new role, totally unsuspecting of his wrongdoing, which justifies his legitimacy by public security. “Claudius gains his way by poisoning, literally and metaphorically, through the ear” [Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet, David Bevington. ] When all of this is made known to Hamlet, through the apparition of his father’s ghost, it is left down to him to put things right.
He must remove the corrupting influence from the throne. This becomes a long, difficult process for Hamlet as he encounters many different problems in his attempts to do so. Hamlet seeks to confirm what the ghost says has been happening, to understand what must be done to put a stop to it, and finally to actually do what he has to do to avenge his fathers wrongful death, and save the body politic of Denmark from the corruption by which it has been poisoned. It is quite apparent to us, the audience, and also to the character of Hamlet, that Claudius must be killed to perfect true revenge for King Hamlet’s death.
This is one of the clearly stated wishes of the ghost. For one reason or another, however, Hamlet delays for a long period of time before exacting this wish. Insights into the character of Hamlet have given many explanations for this long delay. One of these explanations is that Hamlet is an intellectual, who finds it hard to find true reasoning for the murder of Claudius, and in being somewhat of a Christian humanist philosopher, Hamlet has learned to rely on reason and conscience, which helps him to curb sinful acts.
Or perhaps Hamlet is bound up morally, and has difficulty in the confusion to distinguish between good and evil, and is worried by his desire and passion for revenge. Also we could accept the idea that Hamlet is unsure of the ghost, and doubts somewhat if it really is the ghost of his father, and not some kind of devil, and whether it is trustworthy enough to be believed.
However, I believe it is the trauma that Hamlet suffered through dealing with the incestuous marriage of his mother so soon after his father’s death that has set him aback somewhat, and he needs to delay his actions for a while in order to build himself back up, but he is sure that he must kill Claudius and is consistent in his wish to do so. He continues to support the burden his father has placed on him, but he is as of yet unable to discharge it. Hamlet knows that it will take every bit of his strength to avenge his father’s death.