What are some examples of sickness and death in act 3 scene 4 in Hamlet?

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kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet kills Polonius in this scene, and is visited by the ghost of his father. There are several key references to death in particular. Firstly, Gertrude is afraid of her son as his behaviour is so strange -

QUEEN GERTRUDE (to Hamlet)

What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?
Help, help, ho!

Hamlet realises that Polonius is behind the tapestry and stabs him through it -

[Drawing] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

He refers to killing Polonious as removing vermin for a price, which fits with the low opinion Hamlet has of his new father.

Hamlet uses a rhyming couplet when discussing the death of Polonious, giving his deed a sinister edge -

A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother.

Hamlet describes Polonius as -

A murderer and a villain;
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket!

When Hamlet sees the ghost of his father he is frustrated that his mother does not share the vision -

Why, look you there! look, how it steals away!

Hamlet talks to the body of Polonius as he removes it from the stage -

- Indeed this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.