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How does Horatio interpret the ghost's appearance in the first scene of Hamlet?

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maria222 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 9, 2012 at 1:21 AM via web

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How does Horatio interpret the ghost's appearance in the first scene of Hamlet?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 9, 2012 at 3:27 AM (Answer #1)

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Horatio interprets the ghost's appearance to be a harbinger of war with young Fortinbras, the Norwegian ruler whose father was bested in a battle with the older Hamlet. He believes this because the apparition of Hamlet the elder is outfitted in battle gear, and because there are clearly preparations for war going on around Denmark. But he also draws a comparison with a story from antiquity, specifically the death of Julius Caesar, whose murder was preceded by both bizarre and unnatural weather and even supernatural events, such as ghosts that "did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets." It seems that young Fortinbras is on his way with an army of mercenaries to take back some lands that belonged to his father, and Horatio does not seem to think that the ghost's appearance bodes well for their success in the impending conflict. What Horatio does not know is that the ghost's real purpose for appearing is to entreat his son to avenge his murder. 

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