The play â€˜Hamletâ€™ was written in politically tempestuous times in London. Much importance surrounded the outward support of the monarch, Elizabeth. During her reign, religion caused divisions and factions of the Protestant church considered the theatre as sinful, amoral perhaps. In his plays, Shakespeare uses his understanding of humanity to entertain by addressing love, power, loyalty, honour and friendship. These values address unchanging aspects that touch us even today. At the time of this play, Shakespeare was experimenting and developing new theatrical techniques in an attempt to impress his audiences. â€˜Hamletâ€™, a timeless tale of murder, is intended to portray the importance of the monarchy, family dynamics, friendships and betrayals. This then is the underlying setting of the theme for â€˜Hamletâ€™ â€“ opening on a dark winter night, creating an ethos of suspense and intrigue while providing entertainment to an otherwise deprived audience. The conversation between Hamlet and the Ghost can be interpreted and understood in many different ways. It is strongly suggested that the repercussions of this conversation will determine the revenge -tragedy that is the essence of the play â€˜Hamletâ€™. The Ghost begins the colloquy by psychologically manipulating Hamlet into feeling sorry for him; he does so my declaring: â€˜When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames,â€™ thus stating he does not have much time until he has to return to his Catholic purgatory, as he was not allowed to receive the obligatory sacrament before dying: â€˜Uhousâ€™led, disappointed, unanelâ€™d. â€˜ This would provoke a religious reaction of demonising the Ghost from a predominantly Protestant audience, thus creating a degree of tension â€“ intentionally; a manipulative technique by Shakespeare. Throughout the exchange, ostensibly, the Ghost is attempting to stimulate Hamletâ€™s motive for revenge on Claudius. â€˜If thou didst ever thy dear father love,â€™ the Ghost targets Hamletâ€™s filial duty as a son to seek revenge on Claudius because he committed fratricide and regicide. â€˜Murder most foul, as in the best it is: but this most foul, strange and unnatural,â€™ the Ghost further provokes Hamlet to act. Knowing that Hamlet is a procrastinator, the audience is inciting him to take action. How can the Ghost, as the repentant soul it is, ask his son to go against Godâ€™s forbiddance of revenge? -â€˜ Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder? â€˜ The Ghost really angers Hamlet when he mentions, â€˜That incestuous, that adulterate beast:â€™ here is where Hamlet is hurt the most, as if adding more fuel to a fire, or rubbing salt to a wound. By use of metaphorical language,â€™ Prey on garbageâ€™, the Ghost intends to compare itself to the â€˜Radiant angelâ€™, Gertrude representing lust and Claudius is the â€˜filthâ€™. â€˜If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not,â€™ this really puts Hamlet in an awkward situation; he does feel for his father and clearly wants to seek revenge, but it is clearly against his religion and nature as a person to commit murder. The Ghostâ€™s intention â€“ in providing such vivid detail about his death â€“ is to stimulate and provoke action from Hamlet. Hamletâ€™s reaction to the Ghost is surprisingly courageous. â€˜As meditation or the thoughts of love may sweep to my revengeâ€™. This statement is bursting with courage and bravery and it seems Hamlet will act. â€˜O my prophetic soul,â€™ Hamlet claims he had, (in hindsight) always suspected, that it was Claudius who was responsible for the death of his father, although he has not mentioned it previously. This is a display of youthful assertiveness. â€˜O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? â€˜ This statement shows just how distraught Hamlet is by the convergence of having lost his father; his mother perceivably, to Claudius; his throne to Claudius and receiving instruction from a Ghost! This apparition is telling him to seek revenge on Claudius â€“ despite the fact that it may contradict his religious beliefs. By the following non â€“ sequitur statement: â€˜O most pernicious woman,â€™ Hamlet spontaneously turns his attention and thoughts once again towards his mother instead of focusing on the traitor who murdered his father. In this way, he reveals his Oedipus Complex once more: â€˜O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain. â€˜ This statement could be referring to Claudius, the Ghost itself, or his mother. It is most probable that this statement is referring to his mother because Hamlet seems most distressed by that fact that she re-married! By Hamletâ€™s light â€“ hearted reference to the Ghost,â€™ You hear this fellow in the cellarage,â€™ Shakespeare intends to diffuse the doubting attitude of the audience, adding a fleeting touch of humour, perhaps. â€˜As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on. â€˜ Hamlet states he will behave in an eccentric manner, to appear to have taken leave of his senses â€“ to try and learn more about Claudiusâ€™ treachery, To catch the conscious of the Kingâ€™. What Hamlet has not realised is that even if he does find out more information about his uncleâ€™s treacherous behaviour, no one will believe him because of his perceived madness. A contemporary audience would have been disappointed with Hamletâ€™s decision because they would have wanted Hamlet to act and seek revenge, not to be seen to hesitate or procrastinate. â€˜Thou shall not killâ€™ â€“ this is Hamletâ€™s religious belief. Here lies a problem for Hamlet. He has already promised revenge on Claudius, â€˜I have swornâ€™tâ€™ without thinking about the consequences of his actions. Hamlet, as a man of God, will find it difficult nigh impossible to kill, as it goes against the will of God, but would he break oath and defy the Ghostâ€™s will? Hamlet is in a conundrum. The longer he waits, the situation intensifies. He is a well â€“ read scholar, familiar with the melodramatic manifestations of the genre of a revenge-tragedy and therefore he plays the role of the typical tragic protagonist well. The Ghost acts and talks as though he still is was the King, â€˜My most seeming virtuous queen. â€˜ Here the Ghost reiterates to Hamlet that the Queen had nothing to do with his death and he should not think ill of her. However, the Ghost categorically proclaims that Claudius is guilty, â€˜And in the porches of my ears did pour the leperous distilmentâ€™ and as a consequence of this he should suffer at Hamletâ€™s hand. The Ghost has already decided who is to blame; who should suffer and who must die. What gives him the authority to do so? It appears that the Ghostâ€™s main purpose is to thicken the texture of the plot and to add to the theme of revenge. The supernatural serves to add a flavour of suspense, energy and tension to the play.
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