Why does Hamlet first believe in the "honesty" of the ghost and then manifest profound doubts about it's honesty?

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It is not unreasonable that Hamlet might be having second thoughts about his encounter with the apparition who claimed to be his father. Hamlet was in a highly emotionally charged state. He had never seen a ghost before. He might not necessarily believe in ghosts. His behavior is erratic when he rejoins Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo. And the information the ghost imparted was totally astonishing. When Hamlet has regained his composure he suggests to himself that the spirit might have been the devil.

The spirit that I have seen
May be a 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 II, Scene 2)

If it really were the devil attempting to induce Hamlet to commit a mortal sin, there is no question that such a powerful being would be able to assume any shape he wanted and would be able to exert a potent influence on any mere mortal. 

It is characteristic of...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 567 words.)

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