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The presence of the ghost in Shakespeare s Hamlet emits an eerie tone while foreshadowing a theme of death. In addition to this theme, it also illuminates the mystery surrounding the death of Hamlet s father, the King of Denmark. Ghostly figures often represent unresolved matters in literary works as well as a prediction for revenge the is necessary to put the tormented soul at rest. In Hamlet s case, the ghost creates mystery for the audience, spawns death and treachery in Denmark, and makes the play as a whole appear dark and gloomy.
The ghost does not speak despite the efforts of Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo and such bliss creates suspense in the audience as they are unaware of the intentions as well as the purpose of the ghost. However, the ghost is late utilized to aware Hamlet and the audience of the murder of the King by his own brother Claudius. The ghost does finally speak and says this to Hamlet:
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural…
…A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abused. But now, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father s life
Now wears his crown.
Those two statements undoubtedly reveal the culprit of the King s murder. It eludes to the manner in which the King was untimely assassinated as well as the plot of revenge Hamlet will seek upon his father s murderer.
Even though the ghost appeared to be Hamlet s father, those who saw him were truly fearful. In the sixteenth century, a ghost could be thought to be a demon attempting to deceive a gullible subject. The first signs of fear are demonstrated when the ghost first appears to Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo as they are on watch. The ghost appears to Horatio but says nothing and then quickly disappears. Shortly thereafter, Marcellus and Horatio speak of the former King of Denmark as well as Fortinbras of Norway. The ghost appears a second time and Horatio states:
If there be any good to be done,
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,
Speak to me.
Horatio is outright asking the ghost if there is anything he can do to help the poor soul to resolve his most terrible situation. After Horatio makes his proposal, a cock crows and the ghost is forced to disappear because he can not be out in the daylight sun. Horatio and Marcellus also learn that attempts at striking the ghost are futile.
The ghost, more than anything, plays the part of a developer. He develops the plot, emotion, tone, and mood. Shakespeare purposely created a eerie and deathly theme to this tragedy and the ghost does nothing but fuel this fabricated feeling. The ghost affects all aspects of the play and is the key point upon which the plot is formed. He also provides mystery to the plot, wonder to the characters, an added eerieness to the metaphysics of the play and sets the tone for the entire play. The overall significance of the ghost is without a doubt unparallel to any other character in the tragedy on account that the ghost, single-handedly shapes and molds one of Shakespeare s most magnificent plays known to English literature.
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