What is the significance of this passage from Hamlet? "My father's spirit in arms! All is not well. / I doubt some foul play. Would the night were...

What is the significance of this passage from Hamlet?

My father's spirit in arms! All is not well.I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After the characters exit the stage in act 1, scene 2, Hamlet speaks these words to himself which illustrate his feelings regarding his father's untimely, suspicious death as well as his thoughts concerning retribution.

Hamlet is astonished that his father's spirit haunts the night wearing armor, which he believes is an ominous portent. During Shakespeare's time, roaming spirits were viewed as omens and reflected the chaotic political atmosphere. Hamlet's comment that "All is not well" depicts his anxiety regarding the troubling situation; his statement regarding "foul play" portrays his suspicion surrounding his father's death.

Hamlet essentially views his father's spirit as a foreboding sign and believes he died an unnatural death. Hamlet also suspects that his father was assassinated and has faith that the murderers' "foul deeds" will eventually be revealed.

Hamlet firmly believes in retribution and his aside sets the stage for his enlightening conversation with his father's ghost, where

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 518 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team