Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Hamlet book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What's the meaning of this Hamlet quote: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance . . . "?

Expert Answers info

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,201 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

At this point in the play, it seems that Ophelia has really lost her handle on reality. She wanders around, unkempt and disheveled, singing songs which are either tragic or vulgar (or both), and in the line you cite, she hands flowers to her brother, Laertes, as well as to the king and queen. I have seen some productions where Ophelia does not actually even have flowers in her hands but mimes passing them out, as though she believes she is holding them even when she isn't. I've always thought this interpretation of the text adds to her tragedy, and each character seems horrified as they must pretend to take a flower or an herb from her. She hands out rosemary "for remembrance" and pansies "for thoughts" to her brother. Perhaps she wants him to remember and think of their father and herself, as she may already know that she will die soon.

She also hands out fennel, columbines, rue, and a daisy, though it is not entirely clear to whom she is handing them. Their meanings may help us to figure...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 706 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,181 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Madelyn Truitt eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write926 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial