Upon this Picture

Look Here upon this picture… Stop no more sweet H.

Act 3.4.54-97

In this extract Gertrude and Hamlet are speaking to each other. The extract comes after Hamlet decides not to avenge his father’s death while Claudius is praying. Polonius is hiding behind an arras or wall-hanging. Hamlet kills Polonius out of impulse and then procedes to try to “set Gertrude up a glass where she may see the inmost part of her.” It precedes the ghost’s appearance and Gertrude’s insight to what she has done.

First open confrontation between H. And mother makes it significant. Until now, Hamlet has been acting according to principles he established in his first soliloquies: “But break my heart for I must hold my tongue.” Now he is shifting away from this policy. Through this excerpt, the passionate Hamlet is developed. Here, Love and Hate inosculate into a vortex of emotions. The love for his mother is seen in his ambition to regain his mother by setting up a glass were she may see the innermost part of her. Secondly, it is seen in his indirect accusations against his mother. He prefers to use metaphors, similies and allusions rather than the direct invective approach that he uses when spewing epithets at Claudius “Remorseless, Trecherous, lecherous, kindless villain.” Although he reaches a peak of abusive insults, there is still an element of love that precludes him from going any further than speaking daggers to her. Hamlet reaches the summit of his rage when he says “Nay, but to live in the rank swet of an enseamed bed, Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love over the nasty sty.” This occurs immediately after the Queen cries that he has “turnst” her “eyes into” her “very soul.” He finds his mother weakened and the pent-up rage and hateful feelings he has for his mother are unleashed. His success causes him to continue. This could be used to suggest that Hamlet is an egotistical man, since like a devil possesed he viciously and unsympathetically exploits the opportunity to unmercifully berate and castigate his soft and frail mother.

Gertrude, from the fact that she can bear the insults no longer, is seen as a remorseful person. “O Hamlet, speak no more!” and “No more sweet Hamlet.” Are the most powerful indicators of her regret. Emphasis on “sweet” reflects that she now sees that Hamlet is right.

Hamlet’s long speech is divided into two main parts. The comparison between Hamlet’s father and Claudius and the insults against his mother. In the first part the rythm is smooth and written in perfect iambic pentameter except for when he adverts to Claudius. (Show). This shows Hamlet’s deference to his father and his disrespect for Claudius. As he leaves the subject of his father, the rythm becomes much more disjointed, caused from the punctuation placed in the middle of the sentences. “And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?” The disjointed rythm is effective because it is congruous with his vexed state of mind.

In this passage there are images of rankness, passion, reason, hot, cold, heaven and hell. Furthermore there are Greek and classical allusions common during the Renaissance period. Hamlet goes through Claudius’ physiognomy and concludes with his posture. Now explain what they mean. These images are effective because they are all ancient symbols for noble qualities. They are then interlinked and connected to show how Hamlet’s father was the ultimate heaven-like ideal of mankind. These images or allusions are then strongly contrasted against the rank images that Claudius is associated with. The imagery of the mildewed ear fits in perfectly with Claudius as seen in his dramatic context. Explain how he has bereaved Hamlet of all his friends. The contrast is brought to a conclusion with the “fair mountain” that Hamlet’s father represents juxtaposed with the “moor” or wasteland that Claudius represents.

Next imagery of reason and passion are contrasted against each other. Organs of perception symbolize reason and common sense. Explain hey-day as time of wild sexual passion. The imagery is effective in illuminating Hamlet’s paradox. Age and judgement has subjugated passion and made it tame. And yet how is it that she would step from Hamlet to Claudius. Sense represents sexual passion. Hamlet reasons that Gertrude must have pasison or else she would not have impulses. But, Hamlet continues that, passion and even madness would be able to tell the difference between Claudius and Hamlet’s father. He continues that it must have been the devil that bereaved her of her perceptive senses since she would have smellt the wickedness of Claudius even if all her other senses (except the nose) had been lost. One of the chief significances of these images is that the contrast is recurrent throughout the play. In the first soliloquy reasoning forces silence on Hamlet’s emotions “But break my heart for I must hold my tongue.” In the “Rogue and Peasant Slave soliloquy” Passion and Reason strongly clash into each other. These images make up the theme of Passion vs. Intellect. They represent the antipodes that define human nature. Next reference is to pig. Therefore Gertrude is a pig pecause she lacks the faculties of reason.