One of Shakespeare's finest metaphors occurs in Act 3, Scene 4 of Hamlet when Gertrude expresses her opinion that her son is mad and he tells her:
Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
It is so characteristic of Shakespeare that he draws his imagery from common things with which we are all familiar. This metaphor describes something that happens to many people who put something on a cut and cover it up with a bandage, hoping it will heal but finding after a few days, when they dare to look at it, that it has only gotten worse. There is a transparent film over the wound, but underneath is an unwholesome-looking soft spot which Hamlet calls an "ulcerous place."
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