What are the four examples of disease imagery used in Act IV of Hamlet?

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Hamlet is a play that abounds in the imagery of disease and physical corruption. Four examples from Act IV are as follows.

In IV.i, Claudius learns that Hamlet has killed Polonius and uses the simile of disease to describe the effect that the prince has had on the family and the court, suggesting that they have allowed Hamlet to weaken and corrupt them.

This mad young man: but so much was our love,
We would not understand what was most fit;
But, like the owner of a foul disease,
To keep it from divulging, let it feed
Even on the pith of Life.

It is Claudius again who in IV.iii refers to disease in connection with Hamlet:

This sudden sending him away must seem
Deliberate pause: diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved,
Or not at all.

This time, the "disease" refers both to Hamlet himself and the situation in which he has been able to achieve such popularity with "the distracted multitude." It was implied in the last image, but here is explicitly stated, that a desperate remedy will be...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 951 words.)

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Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on January 2, 2020
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