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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 779. Saturday, 13 November 1993.
 
(1)     From:   David Slonosky <
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        Date:   Fri, 12 Nov 93 08:48:48 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0758  Q: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
(2)     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Nov 93 13:20:35 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0758  Q: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Slonosky <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Date:           Fri, 12 Nov 93 08:48:48 EST
Subject: 4.0758  Q: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0758  Q: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
My Drama professor mentioned a production he saw of Hamlet in which the
approach was just that. When the "ghost" spoke, Hamlet actually started
speaking in a different voice. The opening scene where Marcellus and
Horatio see the ghost was explained by having the night being a _very_
foggy one and the image they saw being very unclear. In that context,
the passage where they are saying "It looked like the king" was done in
a half-doubtful fashion. My prof also said that it wasn't ultimately
convincing (to him), but it was an interesting interpretation of the
text.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Nov 93 13:20:35 EST
Subject: 4.0758  Q: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0758  Q: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
In response to John Cox (and his student), I would suggest that the 16th
century was much more receptive to the idea of ghosts than the 20th. Although
there were several explanations (some of which Hamlet himself suggests--the
ghost could be a devil or his father's ghost) the idea that ghosts were real
was less often questioned than now.
 
I would also point out that *Macbeth* features a ghost, three witches and a
ghostly dagger. The dagger is considered, within the text, to be a
hallucination. The ghost of Banquo could go either way. But the witches are
definitely real. What I am trying to point out is that Shakespeare (and
Shakespeare's age) was aware of hallucinations and if he had wanted to suggest
to his audience that the ghost in *Hamlet* was a hallucination, he probably
would have handled its presentation differently. I think that the fact that
three people see the ghost before Hamlet (and when he is absent) is a clear
sign to the audience that the ghost is real. Further, Horatio the scholar who
knows Latin and science is introduced precisely so that he can be won over by
the "realness" of the ghost's appearance. "Horatio says 'tis but our fancy/And
will not let belief take hold of him" becomes "How now Horatio, is this not
something more than fancy?" Horatio is  convinced by "the sensible avouch of
mine own eyes". As for the fact that the ghost does not speak, that is
obviously designed to keep the audience on the ede of their seats, wondering
what the ghost has to say.
 
Annalisa Castaldo / Temple University
 

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