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Divine Revelation and the Ghost in HamletIs Shakespeare using the convention of the...

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quentin1 | Honors

Posted April 24, 2012 at 9:25 PM via web

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Divine Revelation and the Ghost in Hamlet

Is Shakespeare using the convention of the ghost in the classical revenge play to explore the possibility and problem of divine revelation?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM (Answer #2)

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No, the ghost in Hamlet is more of a much needed plot development tool.  Ghosts are common elements in revenge plays, and more importantly Shakespeare needs someone to stir Hamlet into action against his uncle.  Someone has to warn him against his uncle's nefarious deeds; who better than his deceased father?  Shakespeare uses the ghost, because of convenience and familiarity. 

Kristen Lentz

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:24 PM (Answer #3)

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I agree with lentzk as noted above and would add that the idea of divine revelation isn't a theme that is explored in any significant way anywhere else in the play. Yes, Hamlet hesitates to act because he can't be sure the ghost is a "true ghost" and not the devil in disguise, but once that is established, it is never discussed again.

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missplum | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:22 AM (Answer #4)

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Is Shakespeare using the convention of the ghost in the classical revenge play to explore the possibility and problem of divine revelation?


I think this is a pretty interesting question, but before we go any further, could you clarify: Are you referring to ghosts in classical revenge plays such as The Spanish Tragedy, and asking whether Shakespeare is using the convention in a different way?

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quentin1 | Honors

Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:39 AM (Answer #5)

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Is Shakespeare using the convention of the ghost in the classical revenge play to explore the possibility and problem of divine revelation?


I think this is a pretty interesting question, but before we go any further, could you clarify: Are you referring to ghosts in classical revenge plays such as The Spanish Tragedy, and asking whether Shakespeare is using the convention in a different way?

Yes, missplum, I think you get my point. That is, I realize that ghosts were a common feature of classical/Elizabethan revenge plays. So I am asking whether or not people might consider Shakespeare's treatment of the ghost to be more innovative than in The Spanish Tragedy and The Revenger's Tragedy (the only other revenge plays that I've read).

As a matter of fact, the ghost in Hamlet is an example of divine revelation. As a matter of widespread agreement, a theme of Hamlet is the theme of knowledge. For example, Hamlet and the other characters question the ghost's existence in Act I. Hamlet accepts the ghost's existence but for a while questions its credibility. In Act III, the ghost speaks to Hamlet but Gertrude neither sees or hears it.

So I'll cut to the chase: In a play that seems to be about knowledge and the limitations of human knowledge, Shakespeare's skeptical treatment of the ghost suggests that in Hamlet's fallen world, even divine revelation might be ambiguous and obscured as a source of knowledge.

I understand that the ghost is a plot device, and also that no explicit discussion about divine revelation occurs in the play. But given Hamlet's and Shakespeare's obvious concerns about knowledge and the limitations of human reason, Shakespeare's treatment of the ghost takes on an added and deeper dimension. Just my two cents' worth!

At any rate, my thanks to all for an insightful and meaningful discussion.

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renoa | Elementary School Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:34 PM (Answer #6)

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The ghost plays an important role in Hamlet. Hamlet is a tragic character . he is always sad and wearing black because of his sadness regarding his father's death.

 

Hamlet's uncle killed Hamlet's father and Hamlet found out that. Hamlet  seems to have doubts and the ghost has made him become aware of the difference of appearance and reality of the people around him.

 

Hamlet's father died without having a chance to confess his sins and because of this, his soul was forced to stay in the real world and appeared as a ghost.

 

 Elizabethans believed that if someone did not confess their sins as Christians, they will suffer. Elizabethan believed that spirits and ghost are either a died soul or an extremely power sent by God to guide people or to hurt them.

 

Hamlet saw the ghost of his father, the ghost worn Hamlet to protect himself while seeking revenge, he said “Taint not thy mind,” .

 

 

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renoa | Elementary School Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:34 PM (Answer #7)

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The ghost is seeking revenge through Hamlet. Hamlet believed the ghost, “I'll take the Ghost's word for a thousand pound" after this scene Hamlet became so isolated within himself. Hamlet may have suffered a mental breakdown due to his unhappiness and the pressure put upon him to take revenge for his father, and because of that he saw the ghost . The ghost plays an extremely significant role in the play and brings enjoyment to all audiences. Shakespeare used the ghost as a dramatic element to attain the people's attention. I believe that Hamlet is a genius work, how to see a hero brought to death by his own destructions and thoughts.

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