In Hamlet, why is Hamlet so unwilling to trust what the Ghost tells him? Why does Hamlet not immediately obey the Ghost's order?

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Prince Hamlet is a deeply religious individual, who is primarily concerned with how avenging his father's death will affect his soul in the afterlife. In act one, scene five, Hamlet speaks to his father's ghost, which informs him that Claudius poisoned him while he was sleeping in the orchard. The Ghost proceeds to instruct Hamlet to get revenge by murdering Claudius but tells him not to harm Gertrude. Initially, Hamlet believes the Ghost and vows to avenge his father's death. After meeting his father's ghost, Hamlet begins to question the apparition and its intentions. In Hamlet's time, ghosts were viewed as ominous portents from hell, which were associated with the devil and the dark arts. Therefore, the negative perception surrounding ghosts influences Hamlet to question its validity and reliability.

In act two, scene two, Hamlet expresses his doubts regarding the Ghost and its message by saying,

The spirit that I have seen May be the devil, and the devil hath power T' assume a pleasing shape....

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 551 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 31, 2019