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grief, Hamlet, mourning persona


Long viewed by scholars as destructive to his selfhood and detrimental to his swift execution of revenge, Hamlet’s concern with the outward expression of his grief actually plays an integral part in his struggles to forge a mourning identity in the wake of his father’s death. The Shakespearean prince’s attempts to faithfully perform his interior bereavement, I contend, are challenged by his father’s command to enact his mourning through outward revenge, which at first seems contrary to Hamlet’s hope to discover a mourning persona consonant with his grief. By the conclusion of the drama, though, Hamlet embraces mourning as part of his selfhood, allowing it to become something he can both feel and enact. Indeed, his final words to Horatio suggest that Hamlet believes that grief can be expressed in an authentic way and that the work of mourning can unify the self.