Friday, September 5, 2008

Shakespeare and Purgatory in Hamlet

“My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.

I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd:
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd,
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head:
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!” - King Hamlet's Ghost

I heard this passage the other day and thought it was amazing how I didn't at all understand this part in high school - that is, before I was introduced to the dogma of Purgatory. It is abundantly clear that this is what the Ghost is referring to. It is unmistakeable. For King Hamlet is resigned to dwell in this purging fire for a certain time because he had died in sin, and there was 'no reckoning made' - he was not absolved in the sacrament of Penance and had no last rites either. Thus he died with all his venial sins left on his soul.

In Protestantism I was always taught that Ghosts were just demons etc, and many Catholics believe that, but I found out from reading Kreeft that there are alot of theologies that are build up - mostly from Philosophy rather than Scripture about ghosts and animals in Heaven, etc. I thought this was an interesting and spooky quote and it had to do with Theology, so I put it up.

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