How do you think Hamlet felt when Horatio told him about encoutering King Hamlet's ghost/spirit?I would say Hamlet was more excited rather than shocked or afraid, as he had already had some idea...

How do you think Hamlet felt when Horatio told him about encoutering King Hamlet's ghost/spirit?

I would say Hamlet was more excited rather than shocked or afraid, as he had already had some idea that something was amiss. I really admire Hamlet, how insightful he is. Or maybe I'm just jealous that he could figure that out.

If it had been me, I would probably start freaking out, upon hearing the news.

Asked on by kitty01

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I suppose Hamlet's feelings would first depend on whether he believed in ghosts or not, ... as Catholics are not supposed to believe in ghosts, ... but that doesn't necessarily mean that Hamlet wouldn't believe his friend.  So, if Hamlet didn't believe in ghosts, Hamlet's feelings would revolve around disbelief.  But let's set that aside for the sake of argument.

I would think that Hamlet's main reaction would be one of fear on two counts:

  • Fear that there is actually a ghost come to haunt him.
  • Fear that the ghost might have something significant to say about his father's death.

One simply cannot deny the reaction of fear, especially when Hamlet himself proclaims that the idea of the ghost "harrows me with fear and wonder."

Further, if Hamlet had previously suspected something to be amiss about his father's death (which I can't see how his mind would not have wandered in that direction considering how his mother so quickly married his uncle), then I would also suspect there would be a very slight inkling of justification as well:  a kind of "I KNEW it!" reaction.

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Jamie asked, " How could we connect this current fascination with the occult with Hamlet's "validation and hope," as Greg wisely notes?  I am always looking for ways to connect the current with the past, but rarely see television or anything else besides the blue glow of a computer screen.  Can anyone suggest an episode or scene that might tie in w/ Hamlet?"

Hmm. Less with those shows than with the somewhat more ambitious Medium. In that one, the visions the medium suffers often give her a terrible charge of duty, one that makes her life bittersweet. She is often misunderstood, and often acts for reasons others do not understand. When this cuts within her own family, there are sometimes themes of betrayal. Partial parallels, then.

Greg

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I would agree with Jamie (and a bit with Kitty), and I would take things in a new direction. By that I mean, I think anyone would freak out--look at how wild he acts--but that Hamlet would have been more ready than most. A ghost often meant something was out of line in the world. This is a verification of how he already feels about his uncle marrying his mother; it means he is right.

A spirit can also be demonic, so it would be scary, but if real, it would be a chance to see his father again. So, fear, threat, validation, and hope.

Greg

I just heard a story on (I believe) NPR's On the Media this weekend about the proliferation of TV shows that have some sort of supernatural or psychic connection (Heroes, The Ghost Whisperer, Smallville, etc.). 

How could we connect this current fascination with the occult with Hamlet's "validation and hope," as Greg wisely notes?  I am always looking for ways to connect the current with the past, but rarely see television or anything else besides the blue glow of a computer screen.  Can anyone suggest an episode or scene that might tie in w/ Hamlet? 

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I would agree with Jamie (and a bit with Kitty), and I would take things in a new direction. By that I mean, I think anyone would freak out--look at how wild he acts--but that Hamlet would have been more ready than most. A ghost often meant something was out of line in the world. This is a verification of how he already feels about his uncle marrying his mother; it means he is right.

A spirit can also be demonic, so it would be scary, but if real, it would be a chance to see his father again. So, fear, threat, validation, and hope.

Greg

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I too think this probably was an exciting but bittersweet event for Hamlet.  Furthermore, much has been said about Hamlet's penchant for the intellectual.  How fascinated anyone with an inquiring mind would be to have validation that there is life after death? Hamlet uses his educated mind to probe for answers.  He does not accept the ghost on face value, but once the reality of the apparition was acceptable to him, he pursues his inquiry with enthusiasm (and sometimes trepidation).

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

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I agree with Kitty, it seems like Hamlet was less afraid then he was excited. For contrast, Horatio says:

it harrows me with fear and wonder.

Whereas Hamlet comments, when told of the ghost:

I wish I had been there.

and Hamlet also asks lots of penetrating questions to confirm that is really is the ghost of his father. He is ready to accept it and may even have a suspicion that the ghost wants Hamlet to avenge his death. 

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lbar | eNotes Newbie

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Jamie asked, " How could we connect this current fascination with the occult with Hamlet's "validation and hope," as Greg wisely notes?  I am always looking for ways to connect the current with the past, but rarely see television or anything else besides the blue glow of a computer screen.  Can anyone suggest an episode or scene that might tie in w/ Hamlet?"

Hmm. Less with those shows than with the somewhat more ambitious Medium. In that one, the visions the medium suffers often give her a terrible charge of duty, one that makes her life bittersweet. She is often misunderstood, and often acts for reasons others do not understand. When this cuts within her own family, there are sometimes themes of betrayal. Partial parallels, then.

Greg

Hi. This response is going to come from the extreme wing of mass culture, I'm afraid, but you might find it useful. For about the past year, the daytime soap, The Young and the Restless, has been featuring a storyline wherein [now] Senator Jack Abbott 'talks' to the 'ghost' of his dead father, John Abbott. Something is definitely, and always recurringly rotten in the state of Genoa City; guilt is definitely a theme. Jack parallels both young Hamlet and Claudius --- he ain't no angel, and he is caught between trying to become 'good' while still struggling to survive the turbulence of modern CEO'ship and state politics. Don't know how you'd access the old episodes, but thought I'd throw the idea into the mix. It might make for an interesting comparison.

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