Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hamlet's Self-Doubt Triggered By Dubious Ghost

"Hamlet's quandary is chiefly based on the problem of discernment of spirits." So writes Thomas A. at The Ark and the Dove. He quotes a Kittredge commentary on the tragedy:

Hamlet believes that the apparition is indeed the ghost of his father and that it has told the truth. Yet it may be a demon in his father's shape, tempting him to kill an innocent man. This doubt as to the ambiguous apparition accords with ancient doctrine and was perfectly intelligible to any Elizabethan audience. Disregard of Hamlet's dilemma has led to misinterpretation of his character...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, a whole body of literature has been written on this subject...most notably Stephen Greenblatt's Hamlet in Purgatory which uses the debate about the ghost's nature (if Ghost it be) as a launching pad to investigate a whole range of Catholic and Protestant texts regarding supernatural beings and the after life. --Peter Terp