What are Marcellus and Bernardo trying to show Horatio during their watch?

Expert Answers

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

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the two guards are trying to convince Horatio that they've seen a ghost.  Horatio doesn't believe them, until the Ghost actually appears. 

Horatio believes their ghost story is just a "fantasy."  Bernardo, still trying to convince him, says:

Last night of all,

When yond same star that's westward from the pole

Had made his course t' illume that part of heaven

Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,

The bell then beating one--  (Act 1.1.33-37)

He is about to tell the story of the Ghost's appearance the previous night, when

Enter GHOST

And Horatio needs no more convincing.  The Ghost appears at the same time during the night as it did the previous night. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What you are talking about here can be found at the very beginning of the play.  The two guards are trying to convince Horatio that they actually have seen a ghost.  Of course, they are telling the truth.  They have been seeing a ghost -- the ghost of King Hamlet. Horatio will see the ghost as well and will then get Prince Hamlet to come and see the ghost as well.

Once Prince Hamlet sees the ghost, the main action of the play will start because the ghost will tell him that his uncle Claudius killed his father.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial