| Quote #4
Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me. Remember me
We've seen (1.5.5 above) how the Purgatorial Ghost returns and asks Hamlet to help him "purge" his sins in order to hasten his ascent to heaven. We've also discussed how this impacts Hamlet's delay in avenging his father's murder.
In Hamlet in Purgatory, literary critic Stephen Greenblatt argues that the Ghost in Hamlet is significant for much more than its impact on the plot. For Greenblatt, the Ghost registers the complexities of the 16th century debate about Purgatory without coming down on one side or the other. Perhaps more than anything else, praying for Purgatorial spirits, argues Greenblatt, was a important way for the living to remember and express grief for lost love ones. According to Greenblatt, when the Anglican Church officially rejected the doctrine of Purgatory in 1563, it eliminated an important social and psychological function for the living. The Ghost in Hamlet, then, represents the bereavement process. (Hamlet, unlike the rest of the Danish court is still working through his grief for his dead father when the Ghost appears.) Greenblatt also argues that the Ghost registers general anxieties (among the living) of being forgotten after death – hence, the Ghosts demand that Hamlet "remember" his father.
| Quote #5
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
For Hamlet, whose suicidal tendencies lead him to wish that his "flesh" would "melt" and dissolve, the issue of "self-slaughter" is a religious and moral dilemma that will haunt him throughout the play. Here, he laments that suicide is an unforgivable sin, an issue that will resurface after Ophelia's mysterious drowning. Check out 5.1.2 below.
| Quote #6
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
Hamlet insists that Gertrude's hasty marriage to Claudius (after Old Hamlet's death) has turned the world into an "unweeded garden." This seems to suggest that, for Hamlet, Denmark was once a kind of idyllic Eden when his father was alive. Hamlet's view of Gertrude's remarriage also recalls Eve's temptation and the fall of man, which has some pretty significant implications for Hamlet's attitude toward women. Be sure to check out our discussion of "Gender" if you want to think about this some more.