Courtly corruption

The phrase that most memorably describes corruption in William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" has become a common saying: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (1.5.99). Indeed, the themes of power and corruption are almost leitmotifs throughout the drama: Corrupt behavior is used to try to gain more power or consolidate power. Claudius' murder of the old Danish king and his attempts to cover it up serve mainly as a clear example of power-driven and corrupt behavior.

Claudius' power-driven crime, however, is not the only act of corruption addressed in the drama. The morally questionable behavior of other court members, such as Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, is also addressed in detail throughout the drama. Over the course of the drama, several members of court society willingly allow themselves to be used by someone higher up in order to please the king and to maintain or improve their social position. However, their interfe...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of PrimeStudyGuides.com, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in