According to the Oxford dictionary the word supernaturalism is defined as “(a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature” 1. But for some writers it is the element that sets their stories successfully in motion.
To some it is the question of similarity between the plots of the two famous tragedies, “The Spanish Tragedy”, written between 1582 and 1592 by Thomas Kyd and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which was written between 1599 and 1602. But if you dig deeper in, what interests most is the supernaturalism and its effects on the plays. The theme of supernaturalism was a common phenomenon in the Elizabethan or Renaissance era. It was greatly used in plays. People believed in the presence of ghosts, omens, witches and fairies and the audience usually enjoyed seeing them on stage.
The roots of superstitions or supernaturalism during the Renaissance era were based on religious beliefs and traditions. Many Elizabethan traditions were based on myths that could be lead back to the medieval period or even the Western Roman Empire. As for religious beliefs, in the Elizabethan era, the English country was dominated by Protestantism. Hence, beliefs in demons and angels were common and orthodox. This also meant that there were many theories as far as ghosts, the supernatural figures in both Thomas Kyd and Shakespeare’s play, are concerned. One related theme, and this is one other major theme in both plays, is revenge, which is confined by the appearance of one manifesting ghost. If this ghost appeared in the modern times, it would said to be a hallucination. Now, what is a ghost? Ghosts, in this text would refer to apparitions of the deceased, which have come back for revenge, these ghost...
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...ul and most unnatural murder.” He proceeds on by emotionally blackmailing Hamlet and seducing him into taking vengeance.
“O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain! My tables!—Meet it is I set it down, That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark. So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word.”. [Act1, scene 5]. Shakespeare now begins his true story here, where Hamlet is much too eager to take revenge. He starts experiencing bloodlust, especially because of the hatred towards an uncle who married his mother before she could complete her grief period.
The ghost does not disappear after act 1, but makes sure that he keeps on motivating and pushing Hamlet.
1.[Simpson, J. A. and Weiner, E. S. C. 1989. The Oxford English dictionary.]
2. [HARTLEY COLERIDGE, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, November 1828]