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Supernaturalism in Hamlet

Supernaturalism in Hamlet

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Published by AbdulRehman
Hamlet-a great play by Shakespeare.The critical essay is written for M.A. English students and generally for literature lovers.
Hamlet-a great play by Shakespeare.The critical essay is written for M.A. English students and generally for literature lovers.

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Published by: AbdulRehman on Sep 11, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ghost or supernatural plays an important role in the plays written during Renaissance orElizabethan age. The Elizabethan age greatly believed in the super natural. Thepresentation of ghosts, fairies, witches, portents, omens uncommon happenings,disturbances in nature was quite and common phenomenon on the Elizabethan stage. Itwas a traditionally recognized instrument in the dramatic art. People liked to see thesupernatural elements on the stage and fully enjoyed them. Shakespeare possibly yielded tothe demands of the people and gave them what they wanted. Shakespeare makes aneffective use of these popular superstitions and beliefs of his time. But unlike hiscontemporaries, his use of the supernatural is neither crude nor gross, nor is it extraneousto the action of he plays. According to Moulton, “Supernatural agency has a place in theworld of Shakespeare.”In “hamlet” the supernatural appears in the form of the ghost. In the first act, five hundredand fifty lines out of the eight hundred and fifty lines are concerned with the ghost.Therefore, it may be said that if we remove it, the play falls to pieces. The ghost in Hamlethas at least a three fold dramatic significance. It contributes to the general tragicatmosphere of the play, it motivates the entire action of the play, and it shows up thecharacter and derives home a certain moral effect.First, in this play, Shakespeare has introduced the supernatural element in order to createatmosphere of mystery, horror and suspense It diffuses an atmosphere of awe throughwhich tragedy becomes more impressive The appearance of the ghost in Hamlet chills ourblood with horror, or to be more correct, with, terror. Horatio does not believe in ghostsbut the appearance “horrors him with fear and wonder.” This introduction of the deadking in the first scene immediately creates an atmosphere which is a forewarning that un-natural deeds are either to take place or to be disclosed. Hamlet himself comes to believe insome calamity or evil about to be faced when he says:
“My father’s spirit in arms! All is not well,I doubt some foul plays.”Secondly the ghost initiates the entire action of he play. Verity has pointed out without theghost’s initial revelation of truth to Hamlet; there would be no occasion for revenge, inother words no tragedy of Hamlet.” The main theme of the play is revenge. The motive of this revenge theme is provided by the ghost when it says:“Let not the royal bed of Denmark beA couch for luxury and damn’d incest.”The ghost’s appearance accounts for two other important developments in the play.Hamlet’s mind is occupied with the thought of the ghost’s reality. To confirm the truth of its word he puts on “an antic disposition” and then he gets enacted the “Mouse-trap” playto “Catch the conscience of the king.”Thirdly, the presence of ghost in Hamlet has a moral significance also. The play shows thatwe cannot conceal the truth for a long time. It must appear, and “Murder speak with mostmiraculous organ.” The ghost, we feel, is a representative of that hidden and ultimatepower that rules the universe; it is a messenger of the divine justice. Hamlet says:“Foul deeds will riseThough all the earth o’er them, to man eye.”The ghost reminds us that even the greatest earthly strength is still subject to thecontrolling Influence of spiritual powers. The ghost speaks of Its “Prison house” and of thefires of hell for his crimes in life which is so horrible that it is denied to mortal ears. HereShakespeare combines classical and Christian concept with the popular superstitions of hisage.About the nature of the ghost, there exists a controversy. Some critics are of the view thatthe ghost is a subjective (existing within) phenomenon, a hallucination springing fromimagination. Others believe that it is an objective (existing outside) phenomenon. The

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