play opens with the appearance of the ghost and it plays an important role
throughout the performance. The role of the ghost is to sustain the plot
because it is notified only by general terms “ghost,” “spirit,” “it,” “this thing,” “goblin”. The fact that the Ghost speaks only with Hamlet raises
the suspense, and he wonders if “Bring with thee airs from
heaven or blasts from hell”(I.4). The ghost manipulates and pushes Hamlet
to take revenge. When Hamlet hears about the death of his father from the ghost
(a super force) that his father has been killed by his brother (Hamlet’s uncle)
he takes the responsibility to prove this and he gets several strategies but he
doesn’t get any real proof.
“But Hamlet?s blunt memory seems to be a constant
danger, so the role of the ghost is mnemonic. The memory it controls has a
special quality: “Remember me” (I.5, 91) is a magic phrase which operates a
volte-face in Hamlet?s existence. In a blend of pagan and Christian elements
that is true to the whole economy of the play, this haunting phrase is
reminiscent of the Bible (Luke 22:19 – The Last Supper) and Saint Paul?s First
Epistle to the Corinthians (11:24–254).” (Bottez 41)
The ghost in “Hamlet” is a catholic element because it
is a dead man spirit that comes from purgatory. Purgatory in the catholic
religion is a space between heaven and hell. Purgatory is a waiting area for
the dead people to be called on the day of judgement. In the catholic belief if
somebody died unexpectedly by murder this dead person comes back to haunt the
earth in the shape of a ghost to do justice.
Hamlet rather listens the voice of
his father (ghost) than his own intuition because the bound with his father is
stronger. Hamlet hides behind “the fool mask” because the mask offers his
freedom of grief. “Indeed, the whole of the first act is built on the advice of
fathers to sons, fathers to children, and it culminates with the awful
revelations of Hamlet’s father, the Ghost, confirming what we have already
begun to suspect: that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.”
“He has imagined again in his
“mind’s eyes” the tale of murder that the Ghost will tell” (Garber 485) and yet
he is postponing the action, he can’t do it, he needs a prove but he doesn’t
get any. “To highlight Hamlet’s inability to take action, Shakespeare includes
other characters capable of taking resolute and headstrong revenge as required.
Fortinbras travels many miles to take his revenge and ultimately succeeds in
conquering Denmark; Laertes plots to kill Hamlet to avenge the death of his
father, Polonius.” (Jamieson)
Hamlet is not a murder, that’s why
he cannot kill his uncle, his drama comes from the fact that apparently
everyone has forgotten about his dead father, the old Hamlet. Especially his
mother, Gertrude who now marries with Claudius. That’s why in her chamber
Hamlet becomes so irrationally and kills Polonius, he hopes that behind the arras
is the king: “Nay, I know not: Is it the king?” (III.4) The ghost appears
there too but Gertrude sees “nothing”. “Hamlet, even in full
life, is not sure of his existence. In this
tragedy which is at the same time a philosophy–everything floats, hesitates,
shuffles, staggers, becomes discomposed, scatters, and is dispersed. ”
“The Ghost’s command
to kill Claudius requires young Hamlet to become old Hamlet, acting for and as
his father. At the same time the conventions of mimetic revenge require that he
also become Claudius, his new “father” (“Be as ourself in Denmark”)”. (Bloom
23) He doesn’t want to become a king, he just wants somehow not to disappoint
his father (the ghost) and respect its instructions. He speaks only with
respect about his father “so excellent a king”. “The possible association of
the ghost of his father with both
places is, in effect, the root of his dilemma. His memory of his father is of a
godlike man who seems to him to sum up what a man is. His experience of the
Ghost is of a shadowy and tormented figure suffering the fires of purgatory for
his sins, dwelling with anguish on the horrible details of his murder, tormented
with the thought of his wife’s lust, and calling
for revenge. The result is that Hamlet’s idea of “man” and of the “divine” is
radically divided between a noble memory and a horrifying apparition. But in
the Ghost Hamlet sees another side of his father which leads to a deep division
in his mind, which remains inarticulate.” (Scofield 114)
In conclusion, the role of the Ghost
besides to produce suspense, to demonstrate that “Something is rotten in
the state of Denmark”(I.3) and besides
its power to control all the narrative thread of the play and besides even its
high impact to Hamlet that in the moment he sees it his life is instantaneous
changed, the role of the Ghost is to prove us that unlike Gertrude “Nothing at all; yet all that is I see”(III.4) who is so sure that she sees everything and
if she doesn’t see then there is nothing and no one can see more than her, the
role of the Ghost is to prove us that is always more “to see”, more than a
ghost, a spirit of old Hamlet, that have been murdered by his brother. If the
ghost is real or not, if Hamlet really goes insane was Shakespeare’s intention
to keep us focus and mystified.
Harold. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations: Macbeth—New Edition. 2010. Digital.
Alina. Other And Mother In Shakespeare’s Hamlet And The Operas
It Inspired. Universitatea
din Bucure?ti, 9 September 2012.
Garber, Marjorie. Shakespare
Aftel All. Pantheon, 2004. Print.
1 January 2017.
Hugo, Victor. William Shakespeare – fragments (1864;
translated by Melville B. Anderson, first published in English by A. C. McClurg
and Co., Chicago, IL, USA, 1886) in Westralian Worker, 10 January 1919, page 2.
1 January 2017.
“Hamlet and Revenge.” ThoughtCo, Sep. 10, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/revenge-in-hamlet-2984979.
1 January 2017.
Scofield, Martin. The Ghost of Hamlet. Cambridge
University Press, 1980. Digital.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Universal. 2005. Print.