Traumatizing Memories And Memorizing Trauma – Hamlet And The Macbeths

Facta Universitatis 9 (1):47-52 (2011)

Abstract
This paper considers how trauma led Shakespeare's characters to madness. Some memories are violently impressed upon them, some they are desperately trying to hold, while others keep re-emerging relentlessly. Hamlet is pressurized by the Ghost not to forget about the revenge and agonized by all the issues that concern that cause. The most compelling memory, of course, is what the Ghost said about the murder - Hamlet's prophetic soul remembered it from the inside. Ophelia goes mad with the memory of her murdered father, broken promises and unrequited love. Macbeth can't help recollecting what the Witches said, and the part with Banquo's offspring as a lineage of kings particularly vexing to remember. Lady Macbeth goes mad with compunction and solitude. She was not traumatized in the beginning, when Macbeth was, but when he is desensitized, she breaks down and remembers all the victims, trying to wash away their blood from her hands
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