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What is the significance of the ghost in Hamlet? How would an Elizabethan audience and a modern audience have interpreted the play?

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Introduction

What is the significance of the ghost in Hamlet? How would an Elizabethan audience and a modern audience have interpreted the play? Hamlet created around 1600 was one of Shakespeare's longest and perplexing plays to be written. Like many of Shakespeare's plays, Hamlet focuses on the theme of revenge-tragedy, romance and corruption. Also the idea of supernatural was very popular amongst the audience during the 16th century, thus the creating of the ghost within Hamlet. However the role of the ghost plays another purpose. It is an essential part because it is the foundation base of the play's motives, as the ghost creates tasks and mission that Hamlet would have to accomplish on the behalf of the ghost. The idea of the supernatural, revenge and marriage are very much seen differently from the perspective of the Elizabethan audience and the modern audience. The existence of the supernatural has remained a mystery throughout the centuries, that even at the end of the play; Shakespeare is unable to have an answer to the subject. Shakespeare uses the idea of the supernatural to allow the Elizabethan audience to question and build up opinions regarding their current issues at the time. The play is set after the death of the Danish king, therefore creating instability within the nation. ...read more.

Middle

[5] With the ghost declaring that it is his father's ghost, asks Hamlet to seek revenge on his behalf as the retribution implied by the ghost's appeal to Hamlet's characteristics. Hamlet talks in puns and riddles to reflect his state of mind, which is a state of confusion and on the edge of sanity. His mental state is important because it threatens the Danish state. It can be seen that Shakespeare purposely used the role of the Ghost as a manifestation of Hamlet's doubts and suspicions. The plot of the play is to represent the inner thoughts of the Elizabethan audience regarding the situation of the next ruler after the Queen and to speculate about the idea of purgatory. The idea of the ghost may seem far-fetched for modern audiences, as the Ghost is only able to speak to Hamlet, and mostly to appear in front of Hamlet. "Modern audiences, comparatively free of the shackles of Elizabethan superstition, are still thrilled by the Ghost and do not regard it as ridiculous." [2] Despite the fact that Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo have also encountered the Ghost themselves, there is still no evidence to prove that the Ghost was objectively real. ...read more.

Conclusion

The ghost would only appear during eerie atmosphere towards Hamlet regarding whether or not he has achieve its wish. For an Elizabethan perspective, the existence of the ghost would simply be to entertain the audience and create a genre that not many other plays were able to successfully be able to achieve. Hamlet along with Macbeth and Julius Caesar were Shakespeare's most notable plays containing the idea of the supernatural, which grabbed the attentions of the Elizabethan's minds. The Ghost controls the whole play as they control the fortunes of the characters that encounter the ghost. It is clear that Hamlet was unprepared for the task that the ghost has burden him with. However who told him to take on this responsibility that Hamlet believes would set the world right, or restore the state back into order. No one but himself. If Hamlet rushed to judgement, as Othello does, there would have been no tragedy. Equally, if Othello had investigated and considered as carefully as Hamlet, he would have not murdered Desdemona. With the modern view; many events have happed since the Elizabethans that we modern audience/readers are able to interpret. As a modern audience it can be argued that the significance of the Ghost may simply be to show Shakespeare's inner thoughts and attitude towards the society of his time. Shakespeare wanted to give out 'unseen' message towards the audience regarding their monarchy and questioning their society. ...read more.

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