one character acts according to any easily discernible guidelines.
either a “Spirit of Health” or a “Goblin Damn’d.” In order to do this, it is necessary to look, not
the ghost had to be made, it would probably be considered a “Goblin Damn’d” rather than a
Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.”
his mother and uncle’s brief period of mourning becomes evident. It also demonstrates some of
exchange, however, occurs
before the Ghost reveals itself to Hamlet. Before his encounter with the Ghost, Hamlet is only
suspicious of the new king and his mother, but after the Ghost reveals the circumstances of its
death, Hamlet is enraged. At this point, Hamlet is left with two choices: he must either
disgrace his father by taking no action, or, as dictated by custom, he must avenge his father’s
the latter of the two, and so begins his quest for revenge:
Yea, from the table of my memory
I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,…
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter.
This quest nurtures a bitter hatred in Hamlet not only toward Claudius, but toward his mother,
the Queen, as well. Also, during the course of the play, Hamlet mistakenly murders Polonius,
vengeance. Claudius, fearing Hamlet’s wrath, constructs a trap in which he hopes to kill
Hamlet by Laertes’ hand, thus securing his throne and allowing Laertes to have his revenge.
When this trap is sprung, however, the casualties include Hamlet, as well as Laertes, Claudius,
and Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. Previously, Ophelia, having lost her wits over her father’s
graveyard, it causes him great pain:
I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum.
Hamlet’s continuous pursuit of revenge to satisfy the demands of the Ghost, eventually leads
him to his death and the death of those around him.
The Ghost’s demand for revenge also leads to a conflict within Hamlet himself. This internal
conflict is the result of the struggle between what Hamlet feels is his duty, and his inability to
perform that duty. Throughout the play, Hamlet has to justify his desire for vengeance to
others as well as to himself. However, the justification always seems to be for Hamlet’s
benefit; a kind of reassurance or, possibly, a motivator:
I do not know
Why yet I live to say, “This thing’s to do,”
Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
…O, from this time forth,
This segment of Hamlet’s soliloquy displays the conflict raging inside of him. At first, he is
bewildered because, although he has ample reason to exact his revenge upon Claudius, he still
has not attempted it. Earlier in the soliloquy, Hamlet is angry with himself because he feels that
he is a mere beast, since he takes no action against Claudius. Hamlet’s soliloquy ends with his
firm resolve that all of his thoughts and actions will be directed toward the task of revenge.
This is a pattern found in many of Hamlet’s arguments that try to justify his quest for revenge.
many of those who are around him think, but to his melancholy over the task that lays before
him. While Hamlet feigns madness, he is left alone
and he is allowed time to mull over the problems that face him. As he thinks them over, he
becomes depressed and bitter toward those around him:
You should not have believed me, for virtue
cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish
of it. I loved you not.
Here, Hamlet denies that he had any feelings for Ophelia, even though he wrote her love
be the result of Hamlet’s melancholy, caused by the struggle that goes on inside of him.
Was the Ghost a “Spirit of Health” or a “Goblin Damn’d?” Hamlet’s encounter with the Ghost
was a pivotal point in his life. However, from that point on his life steadily became filled with
grief and strife. Considering all the casualties and losses in the name of vengeance, a
vengeance first sparked by the words of the Ghost, it must be determined that the Ghost is a