Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of the most famous plays that is oft quoted even in non-literary surroundings. Hamlet’s indecision, his so called procrastinating habit led to his downfall making him a tragic figure. Thats the fatal flaw or ‘Hamartia’ that leads to his death. He was the Prince of Denmark; a high born, had gone to the University, had courage and intelligence to be the next heir. His father was killed by his Uncle by stealth and his mother married his Uncle within a month of the father’s death. In Act I, Scene V, when Hamlet comes to Denmark, he sees the ghost of his father who urges him to take revenge. But Hamlet procrastinates and in the end turns the play into a tragedy. In the play, after the ghost departs, Hamlet utters a soliloquy in which he deliberates on the fear of forgetting the whole scene of the appearance of the ghost. He says in the second soliloquy:
Can anyone fear forgetting something as gruesome as his/her own father’s murder? And that too when the suspect is his/her own Uncle? Perhaps, seeing the ghost of his dead father itself was a strange thing. Hamlet had doubts, whether he really saw the ghost or was it a figment of his imagination. It is strange yet true. Something as fantastic as a ghost, or something unusual for a common man, who lives peacefully in his small secured home, who does a job of 10 to 5, comes back home to his simple family and makes provisions for his kids and his old age. For him, this is life which is not going to change its monotony barring just here and there. For such a person, when he reads a terrorist attack, an earthquake, a war, a blast, dowry harassment or murders, it does not quite register on his mind. Something that he has never seen around his house or in his life, how would he understand its implications? Gradually, he gets accustomed to read such things in the newspaper.
When we get accustomed to any thing, we cease to react or take cognizance of it. Like when there are terrorist attacks or when there are cases of dowry deaths, public, in general, gets used to the horror after repeated cases. Public memory is very short-lived. And it is many a times ineffective in dealing with the injustice. Take the case of honour killings in India. We make a film on it and get used to the idea that such things exist around us. In the same way, perhaps, Hamlet also had the fear that he might forget the treachery and the intense hatred he has for his Uncle Claudius at that time, would be diluted by Time and Inertia. He didn’t want to forget and let baser matter overpower his mind. He wanted to concentrate solely on the matter of revenge.
Hamlet felt that perhaps the appearance of the ghost of his father might seem to be unreal to him after some time. So he wanted something in black and white. Something to remember and have a powerful reason to take revenge.
Further, when he thinks about his own mother, he sees frailty, villainy. That one may smile and smile and yet be a villain. He could not accept a mother who could be a part of the whole scheme of killing the father and marrying his brother. How can a mother figure be such a debased person? Where the mother would cease to be a mother and be a woman only? Does any mother ever get a chance of ceasing to be a mother and enjoying her own life as she wants it? To put caution to the wind and just drift away? Never! In India, specially, we put the mother on the pedestal and can never imagine her to live for herself.
Again may be, there is fear in the mind of Hamlet. Fear, that he may forgive his mother, as Time passes. Love for the other usually comes with forgiveness. Under normal circumstances we have harsh opinions for other people who steal, commit treacheries or are corrupt. But when it is our own kith and kin, we suddenly try to justify their actions. Hamlet would eventually do that in case of his mother. He did not want to forgive both his mother as well as his Uncle.
We, too, many a times, get agitated when we have some or the other fear in our mind. We fear that we might forget answers to the question paper. We fear that our loved one might forget us. And so to keep everything in mind, we fiercely protect all that is ours. We let our thoughts unmixed with baser instincts!!!!!