In Act One, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Hamlet, what does the ghost instruct Hamlet to do?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, Scene 5, Prince Hamlet follows his father's ghost to the outer walls of Castle Elsinore where the dead king asks his son to avenge his death. The Ghost tells Hamlet that he is trapped in the fires of purgatory because he did not have a chance to repent for his sins before he died. The Ghost then describes how Claudius not only seduced his wife but also murdered him. The Ghost proceeds to tell Prince Hamlet that while he was sleeping in the orchard, Claudius poured a vial of poison into his ear which killed him. The Ghost petitions Prince Hamlet by saying,

If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not. Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damnèd incest. But howsoever thou pursuest this act, taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught (Act I, Scene 5, lines 81-86).

Prince Hamlet then makes an oath to avenge his dead father and understands that he has to deal with his uncle. Prince Hamlet then says that he will always remember his father. As was mentioned in the previous post, the Ghost does not specifically tell Prince Hamlet to kill Claudius, but it is implied.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ghost of the recently murdered King Hamlet asks his son to avenge his death. He demands that Hamlet to "let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest." He goes on to stipulate that Hamlet should not carry out his revenge against his mother, however, saying that he should allow her to be judged in the next life. It is worth noting that he never explicitly tells Hamlet to kill Claudius, but it is fairly clear that this is what he has in mind. So Hamlet is sworn to revenge, but is left to his own devices when it comes to figuring out how he is to do it. 

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