Pyrrhus And Priam

Why does Hamlet recall the story of Priam and Pyrrhus in act 2 of Shakespeare's Hamlet?

Does it reflect in any way upon Hamlet's own situation?

Hamlet recalls the story of Priam and Pyrrhus and asks the player to present a speech about it because Hamlet believes that it closely resembles his visualization of future events in his own situation, that of Pyrrhus (representing Hamlet himself) killing King Priam (representing his uncle, Claudius) in revenge for the death of his father, while Priam's wife, Hecuba (representing Hamlet's mother, Gertrude), stands by helplessly.

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In act 2, scene 2, of Shakespeare's Hamlet, when Hamlet asks the player to recite a speech about Priam's death from a play about Dido and Aeneas (2.2.440–443), it's clear that Hamlet has been thinking about how the story of Priam and Pyrrhus relates to his own situation.

In the ancient myth, Pyrrhus avenges the death of his father, Achilles, by killing Priam, the king of Troy, during the sack of Troy, while Priam's wife, Hecuba, is forced to watch her husband's death.

In Hamlet's mind, he visualizes himself taking the role of Pyrrhus, avenging his own father's death by killing Claudius, while his mother, Gertrude, stands helplessly by.

What's remarkable about Hamlet's request is that Hamlet remembers the speech well enough to recite part of it nearly word-for-word (2.2.445–460) and to cue the player at the part in the speech that relates to Hecuba, whose name isn't spoken in the speech (2.2.494–496).

How does Hamlet remember that speech so well, particularly since it's likely been several...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 667 words.)

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