In medieval times people believed that the health of a nation was connected to the legitimacy of its king. In Hamlet, Denmark is often described as poisoned, diseased, or corrupt under Claudius's leadership. As visible in the nervous soldiers on the ramparts in the first scene and the commoners outside the castle who Claudius fears might rise up in rebellion, even those who don't know that Claudius murdered Old Hamlet sense the corruption of Denmark and are disturbed. It is as if the poison Claudius poured into Old Hamlet's ear has spread through Denmark itself.
Hamlet also speaks in terms of rot and corruption, describing the world as an "unweeded garden" and constantly referring to decomposing bodies. But Hamlet does not limit himself to Denmark; he talks about all of life in these disgusting images. In fact, Hamlet only seems comfortable with things that are dead: he reveres his father, claims to love Ophelia once she's dead, and handles Yorick's skull with tender care. No, what disgusts him is life: his mother's sexuality, women wearing makeup to hide their age, worms feeding on a corpse, people lying to get their way. By the end of the play, Hamlet argues that death is the one true reality, and he seems to view all of life as "appearance" doing everything it can—from seeking power, to lying, to committing murder, to engaging in passionate and illegitimate sex—to hide from that reality.
Poison, Corruption, Death ThemeTracker
Poison, Corruption, Death Quotes in Hamlet
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew.
Hamlet: Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.