Ghost In Hamlet

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William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet at a time when England was embroiled in debate about the nature of ghosts. The Elizabethan people believed in the existence of spirits. However, there was a discrepancy in how the people believed the spirits interacted and influenced the populus. The conservative held to the old doctrine stating that ghosts were spirits of deceased people and therefore not evil, while the reforming denied the possibility of ghosts in favor of spirits being evil devils. The Elizabethan Era was also one marked by extreme violence and superstition which heavily influenced Shakespeare's writing. This can be noted by his inclusion of the ghost in Hamlet and his incorporation of ghosts into his others works. The basis of Hamlet is …show more content…
King James I, in fact, was the author of many such texts. He went so far as to compile a list of the proper behaviors for when one was confronted by a ghost, the first of which states, “For if they be good, they will lyke it well that thou wilte heare nothing but the woorde of God: but yf they be wicked, they wyll endeuour to deceyue thee with lying” (“Enter” (-iii,vii, p.196.)). As the Ghost in Hamlet shared the story of it’s murder, the Elizabethan audience would immediately recognize that the ghost was false; it was speaking about itself, instead of sharing the word of God. Horatio recognizes the false ghost for what it is and addresses it as an illusion from the beginning of the play. Hamlet repeatedly states that he is unsure of the divine or demonic origin of the ghost, hence his idea of the play to determine if Claudius is guilty of regicide, and ultimately, whether or not the ghost is telling the truth. The Elizabethan idea that “the devil’s primary motivation when he appears to people is the loss of their soul or their body” is also expressed in the play (“Enter”). When Hamlet went to speak to the ghost, Horatio said “What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord, / Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff / That beetles o’er his base into the sea, / And there assume some other horrible form / Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason / And draw you into madness?” (Shakespeare.I.iv.69-74). A character in the play voicing the concerns of the audience further reinforces the suspicions that the ghost was not a ghost at all, but a spirit of

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