The Role of The Ghost in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

A stock element of the revenge situation came to be the ghost, a manifestation of a spirit feeling restless because of a desire for vengeance against the person who had caused suffering. The role of the ghost was to urge the avenger to action; and vengeance was then sought and taken in a series of sensational episodes. Here the Prince of Denmark is urged in very strong terms by the ghost of the dead King to wreak vengeance upon Claudius who has ascended to the throne by foul means but whose guilt is unknown to anybody. Hamlet adopts the devise of staging a play to verify the ghost’s story which proves authentic in view of Claudius’s reaction to the said play. The central theme of “Hamlet” thus becomes revenge, and ultimately the revenge is taken, although the situation in which it is taken is not of the avenger’s making, and although the revenge costs the avenger his own life.


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