The Ghost in Hamlet cleared out the event that Hamlet was uncertain of. The spirit clarified the death of King Hamlet, and caused Hamlet to perform his evil deeds. The Ghost’s request to avenge him caused the death of Hamlet’s family, friends, and eventually himself; therefore, the spirit can be viewed as evil because it failed the four tests that was set by Lewes Lavater and the Church.
Lewes Lavater describes how the church determines if a ghost is evil or good. The first description is “good spirits terrify initially, but ultimately comfort.” The spirit does not cause comfort to Hamlet. Throughout the play, the Ghost causes trouble among the characters. According to Eleanor Prosser:
The Ghost has done everything possible to taint Hamlet’s mind with lacerating grief, sexual nausea, hatred, and fury. It has just focused its appeal on the lewd picture that Hamlet knows can most corrupt him – and it says, “Taint not they mind”!
(E. Prosser, pp.137)
Hamlet decided to kill Claudius because the Ghost wanted to avenge his death. Hamlet was obsessed to killing Claudius, which caused him his insanity. His insanity caused the death of Polonius, which lead to the death of Ophelia. The death of Ophelia led to the death of Laertes, which led to the death of the queen and king, and eventually Hamlet himself. The source of these strings of death is the Ghost.
The Ghost calls Hamlet deep into this world of disruption. Its invitation to decapitate the body politic seems a horrific charge (“O cursed spite”), and by the end of the play it will manifestly be so: Ophelia will have been emotionally brutalized and lost to lunatic distraction; the king and queen will have been pierced with hateful...
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...all that rots, seeming to embody the very forces of corporeal ruin that Hamlet fears may be inimical virtue.”
Lewes Lavater. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
Eleanor Prosser. “Spirit of Health or Goblin Damned?” Hamlet and Revenge. (New York: Stanford Press. 1971), pp. 137
John Hunt. “A Thing of Nothing: The Catastrophic Body In Hamlet” Shakespearean Quarterly Volume 39 #1 (Spring 1988), pp. 35
William Shakespeare. Hamlet edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992) All future references will come from this text.
Philip Edwards. “The Ghost” Shakespearean Criticism Volume 44, (1985), pp.126
Richard Burton with Richard L. Sterne. “Interview” Shakespearean Criticism Volume 21, (August 3, 1964), pp.246
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