The corruption of society in George Orwell’s 1984 and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet results both in the loss of innocence and the destruction of sanity. Winston from 1984 stood his grounds throughout the book, but the society standards and rules created by Big Brother soon consume him. Similarly, the entire Kingdom of Denmark bombarded Hamlet with betrayal amongst his own family and loved ones such that drove him into madness. This madness spread through both books in revenge of what the corrupted society has done to the character’s lives.Early on in Hamlet, a guard slightly mentions that there is “something rotten in the state of Denmark” (Shakespeare, I.iv.90).
The tranquility of Denmark is suddenly shattered by Claudius’s marriage to Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, only a short time following the death of King Hamlet. To Hamlet was revealed the murder of his father and becomes determined to avenge his father’s death no matter the cost. This sets off a trail of pretending, backstabbing, plotting, luring, and deadly accidents that ultimately lead to a clash of hatred between the characters and the doom of Denmark. Shakespeare animates the characters with these sinful deeds and vengeance to illustrate that these corruptions strips the innocence and sanity in human kind. Had Hamlet not gone on a tangent and lost his mind about the murder of his father, there might not have been a domino effect of madness knocking down everyone else in this royal chain. Hamlet pretends to have apparently become mad at the beginning, but apparently becomes mad near the end as this obsessive vengeance engulfs him.
This disease spreads to Olivia and she becomes insane after her father is accidentally killed by Hamlet then kills herself shortly afterwards. This lead to even more anger upon Laertes, the son of Polonius, who is now driven by madness to kill Hamlet. Everything deriving from this act of treason from Claudius proves that madness is the drive that sends the characters into madness and what results from this corrupted society only lead to the destruction of Denmark.Much like the society of Denmark, corruption crept its way into Big Brother’s society in 1984. Big Brother has absolute control over every aspect of its citizens from physical to emotional.
The fear that it brings upon its people emphasizes the control and constant reminder that “Big Brother is always watching you” (Orwell, 4). Winston barely survives these emotional roller coasters that the totalitarian government has put them in and straddles along in a government job, trying to piece together how he feels and what he should do with his life. The society influence can be seen in hate week, hate rallies, and the two-minute hate. Winston finds himself conforming to the crowds chants and people having no control over their own minds as they would drop there own beliefs just as an assigned speaker changes sides. To the extreme, the government is turning kids into these mindless spies, robbing them of their innocence.
Madness, again, drives citizens in these rallies that “were not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in” (Orwell, 12). Once, the crowd became so uncontrollable that their shouting drowned out the speakerphones in which leaders were speaking into. The society is turned into animals kept in a zoo, a prison of automated thinking and doing routines. Such that the theme song became “partly a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Biog Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosi, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise” (Orwell, 14,15). During this, he is corrupted by society standards, and starts to search for love and freedom.
However, he becomes madly driven and takes incredible risks to fulfill his desires. He forces himself to do these things to gain back the individuality that the government had forced away from them. However, this madness for individualism drives him into carelessness and brings Winston face to face with his doom.These two authors alike places madness into their formula of corruption driven by society.
Both writers have the concept of an original sin from a high position that spread like plagues and contaminate into the rest of the surrounding society. In each book, these corruptions lead to some sort of destruction. Shakespeare conveys corruption as the sinful nature of mankind to betray loved ones while Orwell portrayed corruption as life without individualism. While crime in Hamlet was more focused on the deed of a single person, crime in was more heavily focused on the deed of a single person, crime in 1984 is hidden within the conformation throughout society that what may be obvious to the reader, the characters are unable to recognize. Whether it is an underlying cause or an obvious cause, both authors’ different portrayal of madness generated from the higher positions of a corrupted society lead to the inevitability of doom.