Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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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...

... middle of paper ...

... 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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