Consider the significance of the Hamlet's ghost to the play in relation to the characters and the audience, both contemporary and Elizabethan.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Susana Corona Cruz Consider the significance of the Hamlet's ghost to the play in relation to the characters and the audience, both contemporary and Elizabethan. Hamlet was written some time between 1599 and 1609. During those times revenge tragedies were very popular and ghosts were not an unusual feature. Similarly to the Senecan ghost used in Elizabethan times, Shakespeare's ghost acts as a prologue and sets up the action of the play, it introduces the plot line which irremediably leads to the later tragic consequences. However Hamlet's ghost was in many ways a "revolutionary innovation" and broke previous conventions of ghosts. Unlike its predecessor, the Senecan ghost, a "kind of Jack-in-the-box" (J.W.D) which was no more than a spook puppet used to scare the audience, undoubtedly adding "to the intense edification of the groundlings"; Hamlet's ghost had a much more human and realistic appearance. It was said to have been the figure of the old king Hamlet, still dressed in his old armour "Together with that fair and warlike form" and surrounded by an edgy, cold and frightening environment in which typically ghosts appear "'Tis bitter cold". The ghost disappeared at the sound of the cock crow, when the morning dawned; "(...)

Middle

With all my imperfections on my head, O, horrible, horrible! Most horrible!" This declaration also reflects how scared people were of dying without having a chance to purge their sins, of dying unexpectedly without opportunity to cleanse their souls. Which altogether bring us to the reason why Hamlet didn't at first kill King Claudius, as he thought he was praying and asking forgiveness and therefore didn't want to send him to heaven, he wanted to surprise him in a more sinful situation so he would instead suffer and burn in hell's smouldering flames. Despite his revengeful intentions, we cannot help but admire, not an ordinary spirit, but that of a "majestical" king, the spirit of a troubled father who very much loved his son and wanted him to amend what had been set wrong, seeking in him hopes of reparation for his later resting in peace. This was for the Elizabethans a new, exciting and overwhelming character that for them posed challenging questions appealing to their much mixed and confused spiritual backgrounds. "(...) But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison house," A description like the one above would have most certainly scared the Elizabethan audience, as they were very familiar with the afterlife and feared the unknown, what their imagination could produce was in fact worse than what the ghost could tell them.

Conclusion

Are its intents wicked or charitable? There is no right answer to these questions, for Shakespeare cleverly set an unbiased situation in the play, so that each of us could individually make our own conclusions. To begin with, this ghost was in fact an honest ghost, as it did tell the truth about how his brother had murdered him. However was this spirit's demand for revenge justified? Obviously we can see clearly that the ghost had a motive, and we would all agree that King Claudius would deserve no less punishment. But was it right for Hamlet to take justice in his hands, shouldn't he had better left it to God? We can't either forget the tragic consequences the intervention of the Ghost caused. It leaded to no more than a successive chain of deaths, dragging along innocent blood like that of the sweet Ophelia and her father Polonius. The whole play evolves around the apparition of the ghost, whose appearance irreparably alters and entails to the royal family's destruction. Nonetheless, the presence of the ghost becomes less significant by the end of the play. He eventually fades away, as in the end everything seems to take its course naturally, and Hamlet kill Claudius in the spur of the moment (Claudius having accidentally poisoned his mother and having tried to poison him for the same matter) rather than acting in favour of the ghost's revenge.

The above preview is unformatted text

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • Over 150,000 essays available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Over 180,000 student essays
  • Every subject and level covered
  • Thousands of essays marked by teachers

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Hamlet essays

  1. The Portrayal of Shakespeare's Hamlet in Cinema

    (Anthony Davies. 1994. pp. 1) Film makers used the Shakespearean plays as means of elevating the perception of their medium to their contemporaries. The earliest of these works was in 1899, a silent version of King John. The insertion of material by well known playwrights into an evening of cinema

  2. Portrayal of women in 'Hamlet'

    Hamlet is utterly disgusted at his mother's wanton displays of incestuous lust, as he frequently and eloquently articulates, describing his mother and uncle as living "In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed... stew'd in corruption...". Again, this reference uses imagery.

  1. Consider the significance of death and disease in 'The Duchess of Malfi' and 'The ...

    The use of the word 'mummia' is particularly strong as mummia is a medicine prepared from embalmed flesh. We have these images in our minds before we know anything of the central characters of the play, let alone what is going to happen throughout.

  2. Can we write about the tragedy of Hamlet in any meaningful fashion

    Here he elaborates on man's tendency to lean towards one particular emotional state at the exclusion of others. Any sense that he is perhaps a youth, who, having had the luxury of receiving it, is merely parroting pompous wisdom, evaporates when one acknowledges that his highly philosophical nature is equally evident when he is alone, it defines self-analysis.

  1. Thomas Kyd - Bring out the significance of play within the play in Kyd's ...

    "Behoves, thee then, Heironimo to be revenged The plot is laid of dire revenge"-- Heironimo then presents his 'Drama' on the stage. The Spanish King, the Portuguese Viceroy, the Duke of Castille and others are present to witness the performance in which Balthazar, Lorenjo, Bel-imperia and Heironimo are to act in the leading roles.

  2. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Summary This poem, the earliest ...

    "an attendant lord, one that will do / To swell a progress, start a scene or two..."

  1. Examine the presentation of fathers in "Hamlet" with close reference to three key scenes.

    (II.ii.163-65) This shows him to be a manipulative and mistrusting father, who cares little about his offspring, using them to do his nefarious deeds. In Act 1 Sc.III, Polonius bids farewell to Laertes before his departure. He is relieved to see his son before he leaves and gives him his blessing.

  2. In conclusion the attitudes towards women in the plays Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida and ...

    The women don't form their own views and opinions. They are shown as obedient to the male characters. The portrayal of women in this way shows that the attitude towards them in the play Hamlet is not one of equality. Women are seen as the inferior sex. The main female character in Troilus and Cressida is the character of Cressida.

  • Over 180,000 essays
    written by students
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to write
    your own great essays

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.