In Act 1 scene 4 of Hamlet, why do Horatio and Marcellus tell Hamlet not to follow the ghost?
There is some concern about the ghost as a result of the religious debates that existed during Shakespeare's day. England was largely Protestant, and there are no ghosts in Protestant beliefs; the souls of the dead go to either Heaven or Hell, and they cannot return to earth. Some people did believe that demons could appear in the guise of the dead and, in this way, tempt otherwise good people to do terrible things (like kill their uncles). Catholics, on the other hand, believed in Purgatory; a soul could, theoretically, return from this region of the afterlife. The ghost does say that he is
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes...
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