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Poisoned body is a Kingdom (Snappy title)

Student: Ash N Teacher: Mrs. W Course: ENG4U Date: 00/00/2012

Poisoned Body is a Kingdom How Denmark is slowly poisoned In William Shakespeares play Hamlet, there is an abundance of literal and metaphorical poison that creeps into the lives of the characters that are stationed throughout the play. The death of a family member acts as a temporary emotional poison that can both be received metaphorically and literally. The play opens with poison that is brought upon the mysterious death of the King, and then it ends with the literal poison that engulfs the human body into death. To fully understand how Denmark is poisoned, one has to look at three major pillars that hold up this image of taint. This would be the metaphorical poison that Claudius uses to poison the minds of the people around him, the literal poison that is used to deteriorate the physical well-being of others into death, and the poison of the feudal society they live in. Everything seems well in Denmark, there seems to be no major issue; the son of Hamlet is eagerly studying, the kingdom seems to be running well until the death of the king occurs. The death brings instability and causes Hamlet to interrupt his studies. The death of a king foreshadows uncertainty for the entire kingdom; the king is looked for guidance and order- sort of how ones body is dependent on a heart to distribute blood over the body. If the heart goes through a stroke, it becomes feeble and unstable, but slowly stabilizes for an unknown period of time that no one could predict. This is directly relatable to Hamlet, King Hamlet dies and the kingdom is in shock, this turns everybody to mourn in an unstable condition. When a body is weakest, it is most susceptible to danger and this is directly comparable to a nation such as Denmark. Claudius realizes that there is an open space for authority along with an unstable kingdom, taking advantage of this situation he attempts to poison the mind of Gertrude to convince her that she should marry him. O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power So to seduce! won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen (Act I. Scene v.) Not only is Claudius trying to poison the mind of Gertrude, but in a sense, he himself becomes the vile that slowly poisons Denmark. Claudius becomes the main source of metaphorical poison that engulfs Denmark; he poisons others to gain authority and then begins to poison the friendships of others as he gets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on their friend Hamlet. During the setting of the play, a nation is looked upon by the people who run it. When the King poisons his way to authority and poisons relationships around him, it foreshadows a grim future for Denmark. No one seems to fully take notice until the Ghost of Hamlet appears to shed light on what is possibly going on. This fuels Hamlet with the poison of rage and revenge. The poisoning of authority and relationships deal with metaphorical poison, unfortunately many of the citizens of Denmark face actual poison that in most cases, render them dead. With Hamlet fuelled with vengeance, he displays rebellious attributes towards the establishment of the kingdom. In the midst of his blind anger he kills Polonius in haste; Claudius takes advantage of this situation and convinces Laertes that Hamlet is at fault for his fathers and sisters death. Claudius, the King of Denmark, plans to manipulate Laertes desire for revenge to finish Hamlet off, thus he arranges an innocent fencing match between Laertes and Hamlet. If Denmark were to be a pure nation, then indeed this fencing match would be innocent; but now that it is getting more and more poisoned, even a fencing match is not a force to be reckoned with. Claudius prepares poison on Laertes sword, in addition to a poisoned goblet, Ill have prepard him A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping, If he by chance escape your Page 2 of 3

venomd stuck, Our purpose may hold there (Act IV. Scene Vii). At the early phases, it is easy to control the spread of poison, but as Denmark gets more and more poisoned it is very hard to reverse. This problem is soon felt by Claudius as Gertrude accidently drinks the poison and dies as a result of it, The drink, the drink! I am poisond (Act V. Scene ii). The poisoned sword thereafter poisons Claudius, Hamlet and Laertes; this marks the point where there is so much poison present in Denmark that it completely kills the host. Many of the attributes that led to metaphorical and literal poisonings could not have been established was it not for the feudal society people in the play lived in. During the time frame of the play, men fought for their honour and pride, men would not hesitate to fight for their king, and to die for their kingdom. It is very important for a man to have impressive fighting skills, as many people deeply respect a chivalrous warrior. One of the biggest failures a man can be connected to, is being labeled as a coward, to die would be a better option. Claudius deals poisoning metaphorically and literally, but poisoning ones enemy is not considered chivalrous; as it is a very one sided option- no real skill is displayed. A warrior would kill his opponents with visible physical damage to their body, where else with poison the opponent dies from within. The poison used by Claudius is a weapon of mere cowardice; it represents him as a man with no apparent honour, nor masculine skill. The poison represents a foreign method of fighting which the rest of society doesnt consent to; when the two get confronted, it does not end pleasantly. Metaphorical and literal poison gains more and more hold as Shakespeares play, Hamlet, progresses. The death of the king shakes the entire kingdom as if it were a body recovering from a foreign poison. Hamlets Ghost passing down a message of vengeance to his son reveals the poison that Claudius has literally used to gain authority over, as well as help him acquire a wife. Denmark is getting increasingly poisoned as the King attempts to poison the minds around him to either spy or kill for vengeance. The feudal society that places a huge merit on fighting skills plays a part to try and counter the cowardly method of poison, and as a result it not only kills the guilty but also the innocent. Denmark became poisoned from authority, only then did the death of the involved purge it from manifestation.

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