Hamlet was both horror-struck and mortified to hear of his fathers 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. The role of the ghost in Hamlet is twofold: firstly it is to create interest, secondly it is to further the narrative of the play. Shakespeare recognized that he needed to create interest in the audience from the very first scene Of the play. The play opens with a conversation between Officers of the Watch who patrol the Battlements of Elisions castle.
Their talk is Of a ghost Who has appeared before twice previously: What, has this thing appeared again tonight? ” Immediately this arouses the audience’s curiosity about the nature of ‘this thing’ that has appeared. Horopito, who has not seen the ghost, W)ices the skepticism that some of the audience may have been feeling: Thus, Thus, ’twill not appear”. Suspense is therefore created in the minds of the audience about the appearance and existence of the ghost. When the ghost finally appears in line 40, cutting short Barnyard’s line, it is a moment of high drama resulting from the ensign that has been created.
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The appearance of the ghost has a huge impact on both the characters and audience. Horopito, septic, expresses his fear and amazement in the first line he speaks since seeing the ghost: harrows me with fear and wonder’. The audience would have been filled with similar emotions on seeing the ghost, and would have realized that the appearance of the ghost signifies that something is wrong, Elizabethans believed that only people who died without the chance of confessing their sins walked the earth as troubled spirits. Horopito questions the ghost, which disappears hysterically without speaking.
When the ghost fails to speak, it adds to the tension of the scene and the apprehension of the characters. The ghost makes a second appearance in Act 1 Scene 1 after Horopito has talked about preparations for war With Norway. This sets up the idea in the minds Of the audience that the ghost may have something to do vita the ongoing war, but, again the ghost does not speak, and so the audience is left With unanswered questions. This sense of mystery sustains interest and builds suspense in the preparation for scene 2. At this point the nature Of the ghost is ambiguous.
Is it a good ghost, it appears in the form of Old Hamlet, or is it an “erring spirit” It disappeared when the coco crowed i. E. At first light. The audience would have known that light represent goodness, and dark represents evil. Horopito comments: “And then it started like a guilty thing”. Is the ghost to be trusted, or not? The only thing person who can decide is Hamlet: us impart what we have seen tonight unto young Hamlet” In the next scene Horopito tells Hamlet after some prevarication, that he has seen his father’s host.
Horopito describes the ghost to Hamlet, emphasizing that the ghost appears to kick like Old Hamlet: ” A figure like your father armed exactly, cap-a-pee” Hamlet wants to know everything about the ghost, where it appeared, whether it spoke etc, and through his short, excited questions which he utters in quick succession, reinforces the mystery and ambiguity of the ghost, thus building the audiences anticipation of the second appearance of the spirit.
The ghost appears to Hamlet in ACTA, Scene 4. Immediately, the ambiguous nature of the ghost is addressed. Hamlet himself says, “Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damned” Meaning is the ghost to he trusted, or it is some evil creature come to destroy. The ghost refuses to speak in front of the others, but beckons Hamlet away to speak with him alone. In scene S, the role of the ghost moves from creating interest and suspense, to the function of moving on the narrative and plot line.
Hamlet is not naturally a man of action, and, although suspicious of his Uncle Claudia, would not have tried to find out more about the circumstances surrounding his father’s death. It is the appearance of the ghost that forces Hamlet to take action, and therefore moves on the action of the play. The ghost begins by telling that he is in purgatory. “Doomed for a certain term to walk the night” Hamlet must have felt puzzled and, at the same time, full of wonder and despair at the terrible situation his father is in.
When his father finally reveals that he was murdered, Hamlet is overwhelmed. To make matters worse, the ghost then asks Hamlet to revenge his murder. Ghost. “If ever thou didst ever thy dear father love:. ” Hamlet. “0 God! ” Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”. When the ghost reveals that he was murdered by Claudia, Hamlet reacts with: “O my prophetic soul! My uncle? ‘ Hamlet had suspected from the beginning that his uncle was the complete opposite to Old Hamlet in appearance, personality and action.
Now his worse fears have been confirmed. His mother has married a murderer! Before the ghost leaves, Hamlet swears to revenge his murder. To make matters worse, the ghost describes the horrific nature of his death, by poison and the fact that he died without having confessed his sins: With all my imperfections on my head” Finally, at the end of the scene Hamlet rejoins the others and confirms that the ghost is not evil but, “It is an honest ghost. ” The final appearance of the ghost follows the pivotal scene. P to this point there has been little action-taking place, Instead the play consists of building up characters, making motives and giving the audience information. After this the action increases dramatically in pace. Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudia, but fails because he believes that Claudia is praying. If he had known that Claudia cannot pray: My words fly up my thoughts remain below, Words Without thought never to heaven go” Therefore, when Hamlet confronts Gertrude he is full of frustration and anguish at his inability to act.
In this scene, Hamlet almost loses his self-control and perhaps is truly “mad”. Having killed Polonium, it is only the entrance of the ghost that prevents Hamlet from harming his mother. This time, the ghost appears, not in armor, but habit as he livid” In his In other words, dressed in every-day clothes. The ghost has changed; no longer the warrior king seeking revenge for his murder, the ghost is more insubstantial a quieter, gentler ghost perhaps because it is nearer to oblivion.
This ties in with the ghost’s speech back in Act 1 Scene 5 when he says: “l am thy fathers spirit, Doomed for a certain term to walk the night” The role of the ghost in this scene is primarily to remind Hamlet of his pronouns: “Do not forget” However, the ghost also as a reproof to Hamlet, exhorting him to be gentle with Gertrude: ” Oh step between her and her fighting soul: Conceit in vastest bodies strongest works” Having delivered its message, the ghost simply slips away. In this scene, in contrast to earlier scenes in which he ghost appears, there is no knocking from underneath the stage, the ghost merely “steals away”.