In Act One, what does Hamlet learn from the Ghost's speech?  

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hamlet Act I, Hamlet learns the following from the Ghost:

  • There is an afterlife.  He's not sure if the Ghost is a demon or a soul trapped in Purgatory, but he's definitely from some supernatural world.
  • Hamlet's father was murdered by his brother.

Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment;

  • Hamlet's mother was adulterous and incestuous.  She had an affair with Claudius before the marriage.
  • Hamlet must revenge his father by killing his uncle:

Avenge me.

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, Scene V, Hamlet learns a number of important facts from the speech made by the ghost. Here are some of the key points:

  • Hamlet learns that this ghost is that of his recently-deceased father, the king. Moreover, his father is currently trapped in Purgatory (the place between Heaven and Hell) because he must do penance for the sins he committed while he was alive.
  • The ghost claims that he was not bitten by a venomous snake, as the rumors stated. In fact, he was murdered by Hamlet's uncle while taking his afternoon nap. The murder weapon was a vial of poison which was poured into his ear and quickly began to attack his blood.
  • The murderer then went on to seduce Hamlet's mother, "the seeming-virtuous queen," and married her.