The Role of the Ghost in Hamlet Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 17 February 2017

The Role of the Ghost in Hamlet

The ghost is a symbol of instability in Denmark and it is the omen which signifies to Denmark that something is wrong. In Shakespeare’s play, to Hamlet, the ghost is a symbol of his father whom he has great admiration for, as he numerously refers to his father as a Greek God: ‘Hyperion’, and constantly measures the discrepancy between his father and Claudius: ‘Hyperion to Satyr.’ The greatest juxtaposition of the two opposites serves to emphasis the salient differences between the two characters. *

The ghost, who is a very image of Hamlet Senior: ‘a figure like your father’ is able to take advantage of As a result of Hamlet’s admiration for his father. It is the ghost who encourages Hamlet to murder Claudius in order to avenge his father’s death: ‘Revenge this foul and most unnatural murder! ‘ The pejorative words used to illustrate the ghost’s opinion of murder highlight his disapproval of the murder. He dramatizes the moment, saying ‘0 list, list, 0 list1If thou didst ever thy dear father love’. Shakespeare uses various literary elements to add-emFive power to the role of the ghost; for example, the ghost criticizes the murder, referring to ~tas ‘most foul, strahge and unnatural.’ The groups of three M e r fuel Hamlet to murder the king. Ironically despite of his apparent disapproval of murder, he wants Hamlet to commit the same task.

This may cause the audience to question the motives of the ghost, which seem hypocritical. The ghost continues with a battering of mixed messages when he condemns to Queen for her sexual depravity: ‘thy most seeming-virtuous queen… loved prey on garbage.’ However following this, he tells Hamlet to not think badly of his mother, as Heaven will deal with her actions:’ Taint not thy mind nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught, leave her to heaven / And to those thorns that her bosom lodge / To prick and sting her.’ The violent imagery he uses only further heightens Hamlet’s disgust at his mother’s actions.

The metaphor of thorns in her bosom is an antithesis because the bosom and rose are symbols of femininity, but the ‘prick’ and ‘sting2epict the idea of pain (as well as phallic references); and since Hamlet is so influenced by his father (in the fonn of a ghost), his hatred for his mother increases. These conflicting ideas haunt Hamlet later in the play, when he is confused to how he should treat his mother: ‘I will speak daggers to her but use none.’

His ambivalence between acting violently but not actually using that violence is shown’when Hamlet’s procrastinates in killing Claudius. Though he mentions that his thoughts are ‘bloody’ he never manages to translate these thoughts into action, partly due to the contradicting views the ghost has planted in him. Overall, the role of the ghost is to encourage Hamlet’s obsessive thoughts about his mother’s marriage to his uncle, as well as to foreshadow fateful events to follow.

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  • Date: 17 February 2017

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