Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is the role of the Ghost in the play Hamlet?

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The ghost in Hamlet is the impetus for all the action of the story. Without the ghost’s involvement, Hamlet would not have known about Claudius murdering the old king and would not have felt the need for righteous vengeance. The ghost was a brilliant way for Hamlet to learn about his father’s murder, because it also adds some doubt into the story. Hamlet constantly questions whether or not he can trust the ghost, thinking that it could perhaps be a devil instead.

The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
T’assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me. (act 2, scene 2)

Audiences are so accustomed to the story of Hamlet that they rarely pause to consider if the ghost could be anything but legitimate. For Hamlet, however, he has a serious question to consider: is it more likely that his uncle murdered his father, that ghosts exist, and that one came to him? Or is it more...

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