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Consider the significance and importance of the Ghost to the play, to the other characters and to the audience, both contemporary and Elizabethan.

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Introduction

AS Level Shakespeare Module Assessment Task 1) Consider the significance and importance of the Ghost to the play, to the other characters and to the audience, both contemporary and Elizabethan. 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. ...read more.

Middle

However the window of truth has been opened and before long the main battle of the play is revealed," O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain," showing his attitude towards Claudius and Hamlet's need to avenge his murdered father. We should also remember that for religious reasons, Elizabethan audiences did believe in ghost's, so for Shakespeare to use this device allows for the audience at that time to associate with the characters, by superstition. The first appearance of the ghost coincides with and acquaints the readers with the military preparations which Denmark is taking against young Fortinbras of Norway. This play is, to a large extent, concerned with the theme of revenge, but the motive of revenge is provided by the ghost. The effect of the late king's speech is unsettling to Hamlet and the audience, both contemporary and Elizabethan. When the ghost repeats the word 'Swear', it has no bearing on plot, but it is the only word it says that all characters can hear and therefore gives the line an eeriness that all can feel. Horatio remarks "O day and night, but this is wondrous strange", reflecting the feelings aroused by the supernatural being. ...read more.

Conclusion

The nature of the ghost also affects any opinion that may be held of Gertrude. She may be seen as evil, but she may also be seen as a weak and stupid woman. The ghost may appear to show mercy to Gertrude, but he envisions her ,"pricked and stung by thorns". So what is the significance of the use of the ghost motif in Hamlet? The ghost has often been dismissed as a stage thrill, a device to horrify, yet secure the attentions of the audience. This essay has demonstrated that this argument will not suffice. Obviously the ghost is used to convey the information about Claudius to Hamlet, however this could have been done in a different way, without the need for supernatural intervention. Of course, there is the argument 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. ...read more.

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