Religion in Hamlet

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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is one of the most famous tragedies William Shakespeare has ever written. Found throughout Shakespeare’s tragedy are many religious references. According to Peter Milward, the author of Shakespeare's Christianity: The Protestant and Catholic Poetics of Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet, “From a purely religious point of view, which is more than just biblical, Hamlet is rich in homiletic material of all kinds, reflecting almost every aspect of the religious situation in a deeply religious age” (Milward 9). These pieces of religious literature are crucial to the plot of Hamlet. The religious elements found in this tragedy provide the plot, allusions, and foreshadowing.
One of the very first pieces of Christian evidence provided to the audience in Hamlet is the idea of purgatory. The Ghost, in act one scene two, says that he is neither in Heaven nor Hell, and that during the night he is able to leave, but during the day he is stuck in purgatory until he has paid for his sins (Shakespeare 1.5.10-13). Purgatory, part of the doctrine of the Catholic Church, is believed to be the place where souls go after the body is dead. In purgatory the soul is able to compensate for its sins it had not confessed and earn its way into Heaven. At first this idea of purgatory may not seem crucial to the play, but a closer analysis proves to contradict this thought. The whole idea of purgatory being neither Heaven nor Hell allows for the Ghost to return as a spirit. In his return to the real world, the Ghost, informs his son that he did not pass away from natural causes that Claudius, the Ghost’s brother, murdered him. If the Ghost did not make an appearance to Hamlet then he never would have found...

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