Speak to her, Hamlet.

Speak to her yourself, Ghost!
You clearly have the power of speech.
Why you getting’ all shy in your ethereal years? You’re not showing yourself either. Even if you have some weird clause in your death contract about only speaking to your son, you don’t seem to have a limitation on who you can show yourself to.
I mean, Barnardo gets to see you, for crying out loud. But you can’t make a ghostly appearance to your wife? Who you loved? Who is clearly thinking that her son has lost his mind?
The rules of being a ghost are very confusing.

Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.

It is inconceivable that women’s bodies were considered the weakest. It is clear that no one ever saw a woman deliver a baby. I guess the prohibition on men being around for such a thing was strong.
But damn. I’ve never had a baby or seen one delivered and yet I still understand very clearly how strong a woman’s body is to accomplish that feat.
But I guess some women couldn’t lift a boulder with the same ease as some men and so ended up labeled as weak.
However – Gertrude is clearly strong as hell. She delivered Hamlet, one would assume, survived the loss of her husband and puts up with a whole lot of nonsense with grace.
This ghost of her husband is an asshole calling her the weakest body. Screw him!

O, step between her and her fighting soul!

It sounds like the Ghost wants Hamlet to break up a fight between Gertrude and her struggling soul. Like there’s her soul on one side and Gertrude on the other and if her soul got a chance, it would take Gertie right out. So the Ghost is trying to save her.

But despite the Ghost’s supernatural origins, I’m not sure he’s assessing the situation correctly. Gertrude is likely not in the middle of soul struggle. She’s probably not trying to work on a moral problem. She’s probably not wondering if she should Be Or Not Be in this moment. She’s probably not examining her life’s choices, wondering if she did the right thing right about now. No. Right now, she’s watching her son talk to the wall as if it were listening. She’s watching her (only) son fly off his rocker.

I doubt there’s a fight about it all. She’s probably just concerned.

The Ghost may come from beyond but he still might have some trouble reading his wife. It’s not impossible that this could have been a problem in their marriage.

This visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

I feel like I could use a ghostly visitation like this occasionally. Sometimes in the day to day operations of life, I lose track of what the really important things to me are. I lose the big picture purpose in taking care of the details.
If I had my own personal ghost who would pop in and whet my almost blunted purpose, I feel sure I’d get a lot closer to my goals. I might need some help, though, knowing which purpose the ghost might mean. Which, of the many purposes that make up my basket of purposes, is the one that is blunted?
Hamlet’s lucky in that the purpose that this ghost means is pretty clear cut. It’s revenge. Which, you know, as purposes go – I’m very glad that this one isn’t in my basket.

Do not forget.

There are so many things I thought I’d remember forever. Moments of romance or trauma. Teacher’s names, things they said to me. Faces. Even ones I’ve only seen once.

I used to remember everything. I loved this line from Allegra Maud Goldman – it went, “I have a terrible memory. I remember everything.” I identified with that. But I’ve discovered that when I go to retrieve details of a memory, if I go to tell a story from my past, for example, the details are gone. I’ve chunked the idea of the memory but I can’t quite place the order of events or the names or the people.


Repetition. Re-encountering a word I’ve worked with before – but I’m different today than I was the last time I thought about the Ghost’s instructions.
I’m not a LOT different, I would think. . .
But I’m a wee bit older. I’ve had a different day.
Even if, by chance, it were the same time as the last one
Or even the same place –
This swear is quieter today
Than previous swears.
I hear the swoop of the SW, the swuh,
Followed by AIR and the word drifts out
Into the mist and disappears.


Even a ghost knows the rule of three.
Is it in our DNA?
Is there something in our patterning that makes us recognize the pattern,
The rhythm, the satisfaction of repeating something?
Two is identical to one,
Three makes a slight shift
In the repetition to really make it satisfy –
Both comedically and sometimes tragically.
I wonder if it’s a learning mechanism –
That something repeats twice and it could be an accident –
By the third one, we understand
That it is a pattern, that there is a conscious returning, or if not conscious,
A satisfying returning.
If someone knocks on the door once, then twice,
We will wait for the third strike upon the door –
even if someone opens it after two.
In fact, if someone DOES open it after two, the opening becomes the third.
1, 2, 3
Repetition, Repetition – – –


It really is supposed to help you feel better.
Have I said this already? Have I set down the scientific study that proves that swearing helps diminish pain? Goddamn it. Why do I always forget what’s come be-fucking-fore?! I feel a strong need to swear at the moment (not this way, of course, there’s nothing I feel I need to swear by or to or for) but I have a strong desire to let loose a string of expletives, at full volume. Not to ease the physical pain (that queasiness in my belly isn’t all that bad) but to ease the pain of sitting in meetings, or receiving condescending emails, or watching my experience devalued, diminished, tossed away like rubbish – of being treated as if I were disposable. It’s like holding my hand against ice, as they did in the study, and I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my hand there pressed against the biting cold, watching my fingers turn pink and then red, wondering how much longer I can keep this up.

Remember Me.

Always, this is played as a sort of ghostly disappearance sound.
I hear it as “Remember Meeeeeeeee!”
But reading it here, now, it strikes me as poignant.
As far as any character in the play knows, these are the ghost’s last words.
And said to his son, they have a sort of “No, duh” quality –
In that How could a ghost possibly be forgotten? How could a FATHER be forgotten?
I think this is what we fear most about death, though,
That we will be forgotten. We want someone to keep us in his memory,
At the very least. We want to leave something behind of ourselves.
This ghost has left a great deal. He has a son.
He leaves a kingdom, subjects, a real legacy
A place in history, stories of his heroism.
He likely leaves coins stamped with his image,
His tomb, decorated with his likeness,
His name listed in the history books of Denmark
And all his actions and deeds, recorded
But all he wants, as he leaves, is to not be forgotten.
He entreats his son to remember him.
What exactly he wants him to remember
We can’t know. It could just be the sound of his laugh.