In Act 3 Scene 4 of Hamlet, by analogy, what does Hamlet mean by saying "If thou canst mutine ... and melt in her own fire"?HAMLET: Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, Ears without hands...

In Act 3 Scene 4 of Hamlet, by analogy, what does Hamlet mean by saying "If thou canst mutine ... and melt in her own fire"?

HAMLET:

Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all, Or but a sickly part of one true sense Could not so mope. O shame, where is thy blush? Rebellious hell, If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones, To flaming youth let virtue be as wax And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame When the compulsive ardor gives the charge, Since frost itself as actively doth burn, And reason panders will.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When you are looking at a quote like this, you need to be careful to consider what the pronouns are referencing.  In this case you need to know what "thou" stands for shame from the previous full line.  He is asking his mother where her shame is for she should be ashamed of her behavior in marrying Claudius.  Hamlet is questioning whether there is shame living in her bones (a synecdoche to her body and soul).  Hamlet is commenting on how there are impulses in our human nature that are in conflict with our virtue--virtue melts like wax in the fire of the evil in our nature.  Hamlet is suggesting that this is especially true in youth when there is more impulsive and irrational behavior.  He wants his mother to act her age, find her virtuous nature, and reject Claudius and her sinful actions with him.

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