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Rebirth In Hamlet

Powerful Essays
The idea of the afterlife has forever been a controversial topic debated throughout centuries leaving thousands of questions with open ended answers that to some, have provided substantial explanations. The Rights of Memory, chapter taken from the book Hamlet in Purgatory written by Stephen Greenblatt, offers insight to the highly controversial beliefs of spiritual beings and Purgatory offering comfort to loved ones who struggle to cope with the ever changing contemporary world skewed by moments of loss needing an outlet to suppress negative emotions and feelings. The doctrine of purgatory and the paranormal has been thought of to help give mourners something to believe it. By introducing something constructive to place their feelings of…show more content…
The creation of holy spirits being the idea of physical beings separating from their external forms and reappearing as supernatural figures was created by the church in order to make sense of different reports of hauntings. This debate of whether ghosts and spirits naturally splits populations into two sections - the skeptics and the believers. There have been many accounts recorded of the living meeting the dead however the most compelling being the tale of The Gast of Gy. In connection to the story, Greenblatt explains of the dead who have been caught among Purgatory and the moral meaning behind being separated from the body and becoming an instrument of the soul. The ideas highlighted by Greenblatt’s chapter pairs with ideas presented within William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Shakespeare allows for allusions to be intertwined throughout the play suggesting that he was influenced by early Catholic ideas from the modern period. Catholicism accepts the idea that there is not only a heaven and hell, but a purgatory. The “doctrine of purgatory...occupied a place at the center of Christendom’s ritualized strategies of familiarity,…show more content…
Souls assigned to purgatory could also be reprieved through prayers of the living. Hamlet takes pity on the ‘poor ghost’ and states that he will pray for his father’s soul while saying ‘rest, rest perturbed soul’ (Act 1 Scene 5). Greenblatt addresses the idea of purgatory claiming that purgatory in a sense could be seen as an easy way to deal with grieving. Greenblatt specifically states that “ the notion of suffrages...gave mourners something constructive to do with their feelings of grief…” It seems to be said that he believes that the idea of purgatory is almost a scapegoat for those in mourning. He introduces this concept within the first pages of the chapter. “ Everything in the contemporary world works to suppress them [the dead]” (Greenblatt pg 103). The first idea introduced is that those in mourning may choose to suppress their negative emotions and feelings. The “doctrine of purgatory” is claimed as “scriptural belatedness” (pg 103). Mourning over your deceased loved ones can be difficult. Although, in my opinion, it is not necessarily the best way to grieve, suppressing the hurt makes sense to some degree. Prince Hamlet’s mother is a prime example of this form of grieving. His mother, newly widowed, moved on to her dead husband’s brother, Prince Hamlet’s uncle. She did not grieve normally for a widow who supposedly loved her husband with all her heart like her son claims.
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