Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet

In Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', the ghost plays a key role in influencing

the destinies of the other characters. The ghost is important to the

play as it symbolizes both fate and catalyses the plot. It also brings

the play into the revenge tragedy genre, which allows foreshadowing to

occur and helps the audience, both Elizabethan and contemporary to

better understand the play and appreciate it. The late King Hamlet is

forced to roam the earth as he was murdered before he could confess to

his sins, having to remain in purgatory till his sins are washed from

him and he is able to enter into heaven. Hamlet, the tragic hero of

the play, and is influenced by the encounter with whom he believes to

be his late father, the ghost. Hamlet was both horror-struck and

mortified to hear of his father's betrayal. He immediately felt that

he must avenge his father and this reveals the role of the ghost, who

is able to affect the protagonist.

Hamlet is instructed to punish Claudius, the late King Hamlet's

brother and murderer. The ghost reveals that Claudius, by killing his

own brother, has committed a, "murder most foul," and deserves to die.

Written during the first part of the seventeenth century, the tragic

endings of revenge plays were pre-ordained by the church and state

expectations. Revenge was deemed acceptable only if the avenger died

at the end of the play. Only by dying could someone be forgiven for

the immoral and illegal act of revenge. Hamlet is placed in this

situation by the ghost, who orders him to act against his conscience,

and the diametrically opposed commands paralyze hi...

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... that the

ghost is simply a convention of Elizabethan drama, but although the

ghost motif had been used in many dramas of the period, none appeared

so ambiguous as the ghost of King Hamlet. This essay illustrates that

here may be many interpretations of the ghost, and that these

different aspects may affect our understanding of the play. The dual

nature of the ghost is reflective of the dual nature of man. The

ghost's ambiguities are essential in heightening the tragic element of

the play. In embracing the ghost, Hamlet embraces both good and evil.

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