What is Hamlet’s conflict over the Ghost’s existence?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet’s conflict over the ghost can be seen in this is a fascinating quotation from the Religio Medici by Dr. Thomas Brown a famous scientist of the 17th C.  “I believe…that those apparitions and ghosts of departed persons are not the wandering souls of men, but the unquiet walks of Devils, prompting and suggesting us into mischief, blood, and villany; instilling and stealing into our hearts that the blessed spirits are not at rest in their graves, but wander solicitous of the affairs of the World” (qtd. Rea 210).   Thus, for Shakespeare’s audience, the purpose of appearances of demons was to deceive the individual to whom they appeared and lead him to commit some sin that would cause the loss of his soul.  At first, certain that this is indeed a ghost, Hamlet says a brief prayer “Angels and minister of grace defend us! But repeatedly Hamlet needs reassurance that this is the spirit of his father rather than an evil demon demanding him to do a heinous crime:  kill the king.  His initial delay, therefore concerns this question:  Is the ghost his father asking him to seek revenge?  Or is the ghost an evil demon luring him into a crime that will result in the loss of his soul?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Ghost swears the soldiers to secrecy, putting an extra burden on Hamlet. His mission to avenge his father may require him to do things which will seem odd to others, and they won't be able to explain why he is acting that way. He feels he must get revenge against Claudius in ways that seem illogical, resulting in mental anguish. Hamlet shows a lack of passion in avenging his father's death. He doesn't know how and when to get revenge. He wonders whether the Ghost is a devil sent to damn him rather than his father's ghost. He seems unable to strike a balance between the emotional and the rational. As a result, he does nothing. His inaction disgusts him, but he continues his delay in seeking his revenge.

arjun | Student

As we watch Hamlet upset on to the demise of his father. He is in a huge torture, ready to die. On such critical condition, the appearance of his father’s ghost adds tension and fury in his external and internal struggle. This spirit infuses the spirit of exploring and discovering. The ghost causes to give motive of life. So his motive is to kill his uncle, buthe is not light tampered. He is a man of letters and wisdom. It is his wisdom that he does not believe him blindly because he knows the history of such ghosts is the symbol of premonition. It adds more conflict between his existence and conscience. Though he is in the spell of the ghost, he is not satisfied. So for that he stages the play to discover whether his uncle is murderer.

This spirit leads him to major conflicts, wherein he loses his love and accused of it. It causes of the delay to him and chance to his uncle to hatch conspiracy against him. At last the circumstance turns against him, he meets the tragedy. If the ghost had not disclosed the secret, he might have enjoyed his life after short period.

It must be accepted that the ghosts are not source of solving the difficulties or problems, but they create serious problems and wherein human beings suffer.