In Hamlet Shakespeare frequently uses imagery related to disease to convey the toxic wave of moral corruption that's engulfed Denmark since Claudius murdered his way to the throne. The very air is polluted with corruption, so much so that Hamlet finds it nothing more than "a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours." Graphic images of ulcers, pustules, pleurisy, and apoplexy abound, giving the unmistakable impression of a country that's dying. In Denmark under Claudius, even virtue itself cannot escape the prevailing contamination unleashed by his perfidy:
Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes: The canker galls the infants of the spring, Too oft before their buttons be disclosed (Act I Scene ii).
It's not just the imagery of physical disease that's used by Shakespeare, but mental illness too:
Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command (Act II Scene iii).
In act 3, scene 3 Claudius is at prayer, praying for forgiveness for his...
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