King Hamlet's Ambiguous Ghost

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In discussions pertaining to the nature of Hamlet’s ghost, there is much debate. On the one hand, authors such as W.W. Greg believe that Hamlet’s ghost was merely a hallucination, but on the other hand, Maurice Egan believes that Hamlet’s ghost was a real character who truly existed. Egan also contends that the ghost is sent from purgatory, however, authors such as Roy Battenhouse believe that the ghost is pagan and came from hell. Others such as Robert West maintain that the ghost is neither from heaven or hell, but was written to be purposefully confusing so that any audience member could think of the ghost in many different ways. I personally believe that the ghost was a real character who came from hell and appeared before Hamlet in order to have him exact his revenge on Claudius. I personally disagree with the author W.W. Greg’s interpretation of Hamlet’s ghost, and believe that his assumption that Hamlet is simply hallucinating his father’s ghost is without merit. Many of W.W. Greg’s claims relate Hamlet to other plays that were written by Shakespeare, claiming that due to how Shakespeare portrayed ghosts in his previous works, it would follow that Hamlet also fits into the same mold as these past writings. W.W. Greg even states, “I should like to be told what Shakespeare's views were of ghosts in general ... I am forced to turn to Shakespeare's other plays for suggestions as to how he represented these phenomena” (Greg 395). W.W. Greg is simply claiming that trends in Shakespeare’s writings in the past logically must take the same form in the character of Hamlet’s ghost. This method of thinking simply does not hold up when examined critically, mainly due to the fact that there were multiple witnesses to the ghost, a... ... middle of paper ... ... Battenhouse, Roy W. "The Ghost in "Hamlet": A Catholic "Linchpin"?" Studies in Philology 48.2 (1951): 161-92. JSTOR. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Egan, Maurice Francis. The Ghost in Hamlet, and Other Essays in Comparative Literature. Freeport, NY: for Libraries, 1971. Print. Greg, W. W. "Hamlet's Hallucination." The Modern Language Review 12.4 (1917): 393-421. JSTOR. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Low, Anthony. "Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Intimations of Killing the Father."English Literary Renaissance 29.2 (1999): 443-67. Wiley Online Library. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Shakespeare, William. "Hamlet." The Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. Tenth. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 1024-1129. Print. West, Robert H. "King Hamlet's Ambiguous Ghost." Modern Language Association 70.5 (1955): 1107-117. JSTOR. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that hamlet's ghost was merely a hallucination, whereas maurice egan believes that the ghost is sent from purgatory, while roy battenhouse believes it is pagan and came from hell.
  • Disagrees with w.w. greg's interpretation of hamlet’s ghost, stating that his claim that the ghost is hallucinating is without merit.
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