The Importance Of Memory In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1090 Words 5 Pages
Thematically, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is based on strength and deficiency of one’s memory. Recollection shapes Hamlet’s overall character, inside and out. For Hamlet, remembering the past brings back thoughts of separation or loss. Knowing the right time to remember, as well as the right time to forget can affect the present and future. In Act I, Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost supports that its appearance is due to the memory of the living. Hamlet, mourning for his father, remembers King Hamlet better than anyone and it is this memory that brings Hamlet to confront the ghost. This meeting reveals the driving force of the play; Hamlet seeks to fulfill his dead father’s orders to avenge his death. At the beginning of the play the Ghost …show more content…
Remember me.”(1.5.91). This placed emphasis on the personal matter that encompasses not some aspect of the old king, or simply the need for revenge, but old Hamlet’s himself. “Remember me” also reads as remember, or reconstitute, an attempt to ensure the continuation of a whole self in the body of his son. (Shakespeare and Memory – Abstracts). Hamlet’s, Claudius’s, and Gertrude’s sense of remembrance and forgetting the past affects every decision they made throughout the play. In Act I, when the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears, he tells hamlet to always remember him. Hamlet states, “Remember thee!/ Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat/ In this distracted globe. Remember thee!/ Yea, from the table of my memory” (1.5.96-99). In other words, the memory of Hamlet’s father gives Hamlet his sole purpose for the remainder of the story. As long as Hamlet has the power to remember things in his distracted head, he will remember his father. …show more content…
While preparing his revenge for Claudius, everyone thought he was crazy. Hamlet was neither of those. He was acting under the orders of his deceased father. When the actors come to perform in Act 2, it inspires him and takes him back to a time where he loved acting. After watching and listening to the actors perform, he realizes that “For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak/ With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players/ Play something like the murder of my father/ Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks.” (2.2.556-559). Hamlet aims to utilize the actors to force Claudius into remembering the murder of his brother and show his guilt. Hamlet must not forget his father’s wishes to get vengeance for his death. “O, vengeance!/ Why, what an ass am I” (2.2.544-545). He forgot his objective; instead he’s just been standing around cursing like a whore. The appearance of the ghost in Act 1 acted as a performance put on for Hamlet in order to solidify King Hamlet in his memory (Shakespeare and Memory – Abstracts). The theater company acts as a reminder to Claudius just as the ghost is a reminder to Hamlet. By seeing with his own eyes a clear picture of the past reflected on a stage, Claudius is forced into confronting his memory directly and in Act 3, he demands the play end and leaves abruptly, thus solidifying Hamlet’s

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