In Hamlet's "look here upon this picture" speech, how is figurative language used to support the main idea? How does Hamlet express his anger toward his mother by showing the juxtaposition between his noble father and inferior king Claudius?   I need help showing how language (alliteration, metaphors, similes, imagery, paradox, puns, personification, mood, tone, symbolism, etc.) supports this.

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As poetic as Hamlet's words are in this scene, he has definitely gone over the edge into a state of psychotic anger. His accidental killing of Polonius doesn't faze him, and he hurls a vicious Oedipal barrage at his mother. At the heart of his figurative language are mythological allusions and personification:

Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars to threaten and command.
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill.

This is Hamlet's description of his father. He then uses an extended metaphor to represent his mother's leaving him for Claudius (though she didn't actually leave him, since he was dead—or does Hamlet believe Gertrude was complicit in the murder?):

Could you on this fair mountain leave
To feed and batten on this moor?

The overall figurative device that informs this entire passage is hyperbole. Hamlet, to use his mother's words, "protests too much." Yet this is one of those cases, typical of Shakespeare, where the language is so rich and, almost in spite of its exaggerated quality, so appropriate that what would otherwise seem like pure abuse comes across as almost noble.

Often in Shakespeare, a single phrase is so striking that it sets the tone for, and influences, the way we hear an entire passage. This sequence begins:

Look here upon this picture and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

Though "counterfeit" here simply means "reproduced," as these images of Hamlet's father and Claudius are in the pictures he's showing his mother, the word is so striking in context that Hamlet seems to have already moved into a rarefied dreamworld of his own. His concept of the whole situation between Claudius and his mother is such that he's driven himself mad. What sane person could possibly say the humiliating things to his mother such as:

Nay, but to live in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty ...

The ultimate literary device here, even more than hyperbole, could be paradox. Hamlet is the one who is supposed to be engaging our sympathy. But the whole scene is horrible. Shakespeare gives us a huge contradiction in the character of Hamlet and in the nature of the language he uses, which is both startlingly poetic and at the same time hateful and ugly.

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Hamlet employs figurative language in order to draw a clear distinction between the two brothers, his dead father and his dead father's brother, the new king Claudius, and show that his own father is the far superior person. He shows his mother two pictures, one of each man. He compares his own father to the gods:

Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars to threaten and command,
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill--
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man. (3.4.57-63)

Hamlet says that his father had the hair of Hyperion, a Titan associated with heavenly light, and a forehead like Zeus. He has the authority of Mars, the god of war, and the agility of Mercury, the messenger god. Hamlet says that each god seems to have stamped his own seal on this superior specimen of man. All of these allusions go to establish how godlike old king Hamlet was in every way.

Then Hamlet compares his uncle, Gertrude's new husband, to a "mildewed ear [of corn] / Blasting his wholesome brother" (3.4.65-66). He seems, to Hamlet, like an ear of diseased corn that spreads its disease to the ear next to it. Hamlet goes on to call his father a "fair mountain" compared to Claudius, a "moor." These are all metaphors that help to demonstrate old Hamlet's superiority to his brother.

Hamlet goes on to call his uncle

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-- (3.4.98-102)

Hamlet insults his uncle, calling him a slave compared to a real king. He says that Claudius has stolen the throne, here expressed via metaphor as a "precious diadem" -- from its rightful owner.

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I think this speech is another example of Hamlet trying to face his indecision and fear.  He is trying to find the courage to take up the sword, in the classical heroic sense, and avenge his father's death to save both his mother and his kingdom.

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Hamlet uses classical imagery to describe his father. He is like a Greek god, with "Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself, an eye like Mars to threaten and command, a station like the herald Mercury..." He juxtaposes this image with Claudius, who he characterizes using the image of disease. He is a "mildewed ear" (i.e. of corn) that infects his wholesome brother. By the end of his diatribe, he describes Claudius as "a murder and a villain," and "a slave" who is not worth a fraction of the former king. It is indeed one of the most powerful moments in the play, because it is when Hamlet finally confronts his mother with her sin.

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You may want to move this over to the Literature question and answer section, where you are likely to get more detailed responses.  In the meantime, I would urge you to take a look at how this moment has been played in various films of Hamlet, such as the ones directed by Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson, and Kenneth Branagh (to mention just a few). Clips can be found on YouTube.  My own recollection is that this is often one of the most powerful moments in many productions of the play.

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