Hamlet and the ghost of purgatory intimations of killing the father
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Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Intimations of Killing the Father

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Hamlet and the ghost of purgatory intimations of killing the father

Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Intimations of Killing the Father

Thesis statement: Buried deep in the tragedy of Hamlet are intimations of what may be called the transformative event, the abolition of Purgatory, a necessary adjunct to autonomous individualism, for which the brutally appropriate name is killing the father.


Introduction

Introduction

  • The stirring figures of Hamlet and Milton’s Satan in early-modern English culture—toward liberal autonomy


The requirement of an attack on patriarchal tradition

Gertrude Stein, “…As I say fathers are depressing any father who is a father or any one who is a father and there are far too many fathers now existing…I had a father, I have told lots about him in Making of America but I did not tell about the differences before and after having him…Then our life without a father began a very pleasant one.”

The requirement of an attack on patriarchal tradition


The requirement of an attack on patriarchal tradition1

The requirement of an attack on patriarchal tradition

  • Virginia Woolf,”…[Father’s] life would have entirely ended mine. What would have happened? No writing, no books;--inconceivable.”

  • J. Hill Millers, “a deconstructionist is not a parasite but a parricide. He is a bad son demolishing beyond hope of repair the machine of Western metaphysics.”


Hamlet and the ghost of purgatory intimations of killing the father

The need to free oneself from the past, from tradition, from ancestral piety, and especially from the father and the paternal lineage before asserting individualism

  • Coriolanus

  • I’ll never

  • Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand

  • As if a man were author of himself

  • And knew no other kin. (5.3.34-37)


  • Hamlet and the ghost of purgatory intimations of killing the father

    The need to free oneself from the past, from tradition, from ancestral piety, and especially from the father and the paternal lineage before asserting individualism

    • Edmund from King Lear

  • The younger rises when the old doth fall. (3.3.26)

    • Ulysses from Troilus and Cressida

  • And the rude son should strike his father dead. (1.3.115)

  • Hamlet: the denial and forgetting of Purgatory


  • Purgatory

    Purgatory

    • a place where, according to Roman Catholic beliefs, the souls of dead people must suffer for the bad things they did, until they are pure enough to enter heaven


    Functions

    Functions

    • A Catholic church convention serving as a chapel for the living to practice prayer and mass-saying in commemoration of the dead

    • Creating a strong sense of communal solidarity between the living and the dead

    • A popular institution manipulated by the bishops as a means of social control and financial interests


    Abolition

    Abolition

    • Reformation: in term of its notorious abuses, publicized and disparaged by Luther and the first Reformer

    • In 1549, by the Church of England’s declaration, in the Edwardian Prayerbook, the Purgatory did not exist and consequently that Christians should not mourn or pray for their dead.


    Abolition1

    Abolition

    • By ceasing to pray for the dead, the first generation of English Protestants “in a moment quit /The debt immense of endless gratitude, /So burthensome still paying, still to ow” but “[know] no time when we were not as now; /Know none before us, self-begot, self-rais’d.” (Paradise Lost, 5.859-60)


    Killing the father in hamlet

    Killing the Father in Hamlet

    • The ghost of purgatory: the old generation’s stance as Catholic and his needs to be “remembered”—the Ghost of Hamlet’s father

    • The Reformist advice not to mourn excessively for the dead who is ether in heaven or hell—Claudius

    • The new generation’s indetermine and skeptical response, asserting one’s own way to interpret and revenge—Prince Hamlet, Horatio and friends


    Killing the father in hamlet1

    Killing the Father in Hamlet

    • The omission of the concept Purgatory and the old way to “remember”: Hamlet’s tendency of driven inward into radical individualist subjectivity

    • But I have that within which passes show

    • These but the trappings and the suits of woe (1.2.85-86)

    • His deepest concern is not only for his lost father but for himself and for his innermost identity.


    Conclusion

    Conclusion

    • The abolition of Purgatory turns the focus from community and solidarity toward self-concern and individual self-sufficiency. In Hamlet’s case, although he avenges his father and does not forget him, the fact that he does not really remember why or how he should remember his father makes this story an assertion of progressive individualism against the communal past and against the generous benefactions and the crying needs of the dead.


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