27 September 2014
Who Is to Blame?
In the 16th century, ghosts were not the anomaly that they are today. Because of the strong religious influences of the time, and the belief that the border between the living and non-living was permeable, seeing a ghost was not something that would leave a person who saw one dumbfounded. Rather, one of the first things that would come to a person's mind would be whether it was good or not. Now, the story of Hamlet goes something like this: Hamlet's father (the king) is murdered by his brother (Claudius), who takes the throne and marries his widowed wife. The ghost of the king then comes to Hamlet and tells him what happened, and that he needs to avenge him. And most of this makes sense. But if you are anything like me, the end of the play brought you right back to where it all began with one simple question: Was the ghost that Hamlet spoke to in the beginning of the play really his dad? Or was the ghost actually an evil spirit who was trying to cause as much turmoil as he could?
I think that there is a strong argument to be made for the ghost really being Hamlets father.
First and foremost, he was telling the truth about Claudius. Hamlet himself was having doubts about whether the ghost was telling the truth or not. He set up The Mousetrap with the players as a way to know with certainty if Claudius had killed his dad. I think that the ghost telling the truth gives him a little bit of creditability.
Analyzing what exactly the spirit tells Hamlet when he is talking to him can make an even stronger case...