In Hamlet, what is the main message conveyed by Shakespeare in the "Look here upon this picture" speech?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us remember that this speech is the first time that Hamlet is able to confront his mother openly after Hamlet has just discovered that instead of killing Claudius, as he had hoped, he has actually killed the eavesdropping Polonius. It is now that Hamlet is able to release all his long-repressed anger and frustration at his mother. This speech, therefore, informs Gertrude of the true nature of her new husband whilst remembering the virtues of the first, before moving on to lambast her for her decision to marry Claudius.

The old Hamlet is described as having "the front of Jove himself," whereas in the picture that Hamlet is painting for his mother, and they have just seen enacted by the Players, Claudius, her new husband, is "like a mildew'd ear / Blasting his wholesome brother." The speech turns into a bitter attack on Gertrude for her impropriety of marrying such a man after her first husband, and ends with a denunciation of her act:

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.

Hamlet questions what led her to marry again, and laments the shame that caused her to act so terribly and then finally asks evil to melt his own bones because of the heinous nature of her act.

studentinib | Student

I need to write a commentary about this speech in Act 3 scene 4 and find what the message is, what shakespeare is trying to say by including this speech, and then say how language is used to convey this through figurative language ie, similies, metaphors… and imagery...