The thing that stuck out the most to me as we start Hamlet is the ghost. Maybe I’m still on some sort of Halloween kick but I find him fascinating. I don’t think in any of the other plays we’ve covered in class has a ghost been such a dominant factor in the play like Hamlet.
At first the ghost didn’t seem to be of any importance. When Horratio, Marcellus and Barnardo first encounter the ghost they’re frightened, as anyone should be. They try to make contact with the ghost, figure out what its purpose is but the ghost vanishes. This made him seem as if he wasn’t a very important character. Towards the end of the act when he is with Hamlet his personality does a full 360. He is having long articulated conversations with Hamlet, giving him instructions and even asking Hamlet questions. This may serve as foreshadowing for the importance and continuing appearance of him throughout the rest of the play.
What I also found really interesting was what the ghost meant to the characters, who he was, and what he told Hamlet. After his brief encounter with Barnardo, Horratio and Marcellus they see it as a bad omen for their country. The more I think about that now the more I see it as reasonable. Even today when we talk about ghosts they aren’t generally thought of in a positive manner. A word closely associated with ghost is “haunt”, and usually when something is haunted its for the worse and not the better. Perhaps seeing the ghost led the three characters to believe their country was going to be “haunted.” Maybe war and hard times could serve as hauntings. In 1.1.111 Horratio says “a moke is to trouble the mind’s eye”, meaning that the ghost is something that should worry them, something is not right. Maybe this is foreshadowing too.
Going back to the end of the act the ghost tells Hamlet that he is actually Hamlets father and then he tells Hamlet “so art though to revenge when thou shalt hear” (1.5.7). The ghost of Hamlet’s father is telling Hamlet to avenge him. to seek revenge for his father who was killed in a manner unaware to Hamlet. It seems as if the ghost is serving as a catalyst for the events that are yet to take place in play, so far at least. I cant help but wonder if the ghost is for real though, Shakespeare is a smart guy and has been known to have some tricks up his sleeve. But given the context of the ghost and his dialogue I think its safe so say this most certainly is a ghost.


4 thoughts on “iknowaghost.

  1. Amy DiToto

    I, too, like the idea of the ghost and find it to be a very important part of the play. It truly is the catalyst that sets everything in motion. While Hamlet always suspected that Claudius was responsible for his father's death, it is not until the ghost confirms this suspicion that Hamlet decides to act. What does this say about Hamlet's character? If there were no other characters present, I would probably chalk this event off to the fact that Hamlet really is insane, but other people are present…so it leaves me to question the characters of both Hamlet I and Hamlet II. Are they both evil? Is it evil to want revenge? I can't really blame the ghost for wanting to extract revenge against his murderer, but why can't he kill Claudius himself? Are ghosts only seen as powerful in today's day and age? Why is Hamlet so willing to avenge his father by pretending to be crazy? Is he just tired of pretending to be sane? If he is really insane, can we believe anything Hamlet says and does? It's such a tricky situation, and all brought about by a ghost!

  2. Carrie C

    I agree with your thoughts, the ghost is a very important character in the play and acts as a catalyst that helps set the events of the play in motion. If it were not for the ghost telling Hamlet to avenge his death Hamlet would probably still be moping about the castle grounds unable to move onward from his father's death. I think it's interesting that the ghost tells Hamlet "nor let thy soul contrive/Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven/And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,/To prick and sting her". Hamlet is clearly being told to leave his mother alone and leave her out of his plots of revenge, but Hamlet still appears to be hung up on her decision to marry his uncle despite these directions.

  3. Morgan Smith

    I also think that the role of King Hamlet I’s ghost is intriguing in this play. I think ghosts habitually are significant in Shakespeare’s plays, such as the ghosts of Richard III’s victims who signal the demise of Richard, torment him, and throw him into an internal conflict of self-doubt just when he is going to war to defend his crown. You have pointed out what I think divides Hamlet I from other ghosts- he is one of the reoccurring characters of the play and catalyst for the play’s major events, not just a temporary apparition

  4. Cyrus Mulready

    Nice post, Jared. We could have made more a point in class just how remarkable the Ghost's appearance in armor is–giving us a sense, perhaps, that there is unfinished business, and idea that carries through to the end of the play.


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