Hamlet the lust for power corrupts essay

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Hamlet the lust for power corrupts essay

It is an interesting question to pose to Shakespeare, for of all the writers we know of, he seems to portray the widest variety of human types, as well as to see most deeply into the human soul.

Aristotle had a more positive view of the potential effect of wielding power, for he saw it as necessary to the rounding off and completion of practical virtue. Aristotle would, on the whole but not universally see his treatment of the ancient monarchyagree with Acton that absolute power is a problem, thus his favoring of the aristocratic republic or the polity as the best regimes in most circumstances.

But he would take a more nuanced position on the inherent tendency of power to corrupt. It can ennoble as well, and the actual effects of power-holding are apparently more circumstantial than Acton allows.

At almost the opposite extreme lies the other Shakespeare predecessor of interest here—Machiavelli. Human beings are by nature corrupt, if by corrupt we mean indisposed to play nicely with one another on their own. As Machiavelli says in one place: Indeed, his very last words are these: He finds Macbeth a poor test because Macbeth, not following Machiavelli enough, never achieves absolute power to provide a good test.

Antony and Cleopatra are also inconclusive because we cannot find a proper standard to gauge their corruption just as we cannot judge the degree of power they hold. Richard II is also inconclusive, for he believes himself absolute by virtue of his constitutional and divinely ordained power, but is in fact anything but because of his dependence on the barons and his personal weakness and poor judgment.

They became wiser, more moderate, more loyal to others. Shakespeare partakes of both the perspectives of Aristotle and of Machiavelli on the issue, but, I would say, he is ultimately more Aristotelian. To be more concrete, let us begin where Alvis does, with Macbeth.

Ambition has an object—honor. Shakespeare may not agree with Macbeth about military prowess as the highest claim of worth, but he no doubt does agree that honor is a respectable and valid aim of rule. Aristotle surely does agree.

Honor can be a good and incorrupt aim, for it may lead a ruler to attempt to rule in such a way as to deserve honor, that is to say, to rule in a way that benefits his subjects and thus earns their esteem.

Hamlet the lust for power corrupts essay

Ambition is not corrupt in itself and it does not seem that Shakespeare means to show that honor achieved through attaining power is necessarily corrupting.

A clearer case of one who is corrupt before attaining power is Richard III. It is difficult to say that possessing absolute or near absolute power made him worse; it merely gave him the opportunity to do more mischief. The elevation of Malcolm makes him realize there is no noncriminal path for him to take to his destination.

Once he faces that necessity he develops qualms, but not over the injustice of the deed. In a word he fears he will be caught and punished. In attaining power, then, Macbeth is not corrupted but more nearly reveals what he has inwardly been.

Macbeth is not one who is corrupted by power but one who reveals what he already is—an unjust man. Although Macbeth is but one case, it is not clear that Shakespeare shows any individual who became corrupted through possession of power.

Does he show any who are made better through holding power? There is of course the difficult and complex case of Prospero. But on balance he seems to have become better not through wielding power but through losing power.

When Duke of Milan, he spent his time and attention on his studies to the neglect of his dukedom and his duties. It is only when supplanted and exiled that he comes to take seriously his responsibility for the welfare of those over whom he rules.

On his island and with his small polity he becomes less corrupt in the sense of more responsible. But as Alvis rightly says, Prospero remains an enigma.

What is a good quote by Claudius in "Hamlet" that shows that he thrives on power? | eNotes

At the beginning he is a tyrant in both his domestic and political actions. He approaches his marriage to Hippolyta as the reward due to one who has triumphed in war. He acts to impose severe penalties on various of his subjects when they seek to act freely in choosing their marriage mates.

By the end of the play he is quite transformed. He no longer treats Hippolyta as a mere spoil of war but as a loved and loving companion.

Study Questions

The exercise of power has made him better.Poem of the Masses. my smile melts with confusion artisticly enhanced she titty-danced her clients glanced at her mammarily-expansed bust, de-pantsed.

Free power corrupts papers, essays, and research papers. My Account. Your search returned over essays Corruption in Shakespeare's play Hamlet has infected Claudius, the brother of the old king Hamlet who kills him out of lust for power. In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, corruption had inevitably led to the downfall of Denmark.

Hamlet. Essay on Hamlet - The Lust For Power Corrupts Words 7 Pages "Corruption is a tree, whose branches are Of an immeasurable length: they spread Ev'rywhere, and the dew that drops from thence Hath infected some chairs and stools of authority" (Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher).

LEAD ESSAY: John E. Alvis, "The Corrupting Influence of Power in Shakespeare’s Plays" [Posted: July 5, ]↩ Lord Acton famously maintained that “power tends to corrupt. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Shakespeare’s plays qualify as so many imaginative investigations into the consequences of possessing power.

Enjoying "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

From one perspective his dramas depict the effects of possessing power upon the . Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely Essay. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely There are many examples, throughout history, of leaders who have been corrupted with power.

For example, people like Hitler and Napoleon have all committed shameful actions in the hopes of gaining absolute power. The main theme in Hamlet is poison corrupts everyone.

Each main character has at least one poison which corrupts them, however, most characters have both literal and metaphorical poison. Gertrude's poison is lust, which Claudius uses to .

Corruption in Hamlet by Elise Croft on Prezi