Shakespeares Definition Of A Ghost Essay

1082 words - 4 pages

Shakespeare's Definition of a Ghost

     The American Heritage Dictionary, published in 1973, defines a ghost as,
"the spirit or shade of a dead person, supposed to haunt living persons or
former habitats." Unfortunately, this simple definition does not explain where a
ghost comes from or why it haunts. When used in the context of Shakespeare's
Hamlet, this definition seems to suggest that the ghost who visits Hamlet truly
is his dead father seeking revenge. To the modern reader, this straightforward
interpretation adequately characterizes the ghost and his purpose; however, to
the Elizabethan audience the ghost's identity proved more complex. For the
Elizabethans, four different types of ghosts existed, each with its own purpose
and qualities. Before they could determine the meaning behind the ghost's
appearance, the Elizabethans had to classify the ghost in one of the four
categories. Similar to the modern definition, the Elizabethans believed in the
possibility of the ghost being an actual dead person sent to perform some task
or mission. On the other hand, the ghost could be the devil disguised in the
form of a deceased loved one, tempting to procure the soul of one of the living.
The nonbelievers among the Elizabethans saw ghosts as omens, telling of troubled
time ahead, or simply as the hallucinations of a crazed person or group.
Shakespeare recognized the complexity of the Elizabethan ghost's identity and
played off of the confusion, making the question of identity a key theme to his
play. Throughout Hamlet Shakespeare explores each of the possible identities of
the ghost with each one adding a new twist to Hamlet's plight.
     When news of the ghost's presence first reaches Hamlet and Horatio, they
declare it an omen of forthcoming evil. Hamlet's reaction indicates that he is
not surprised, "My father's spirit - in arms? All is not well. / I doubt some
foul play. Would the night were come! / Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds
will rise, / Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes" (I.iii.255-259).
Hamlet already believes that Gertrude has committed a "foul deed" in marrying
Claudius and the ghost's appearance supports Hamlet's anger. At the time, Hamlet
does not know of his father's murder, but he suspects there may be more behind
the ghost's appearance and he is anxious to learn its complete meaning. Horatio,
too, sees the ghost as an omen, but he also realizes that the omen may mean the
downfall of them all, "In what particular thought to work I know not; / But, in
gross and scope of my opinion, / This bodes some strange eruption to our state"
(I.i.67-69). Thus, as an omen, the ghost does little more than foreshadow the
coming tragedy in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
     When Hamlet first encounters the ghost he truly believes it is his
father. Perhaps out of shock, Hamlet quickly certifies the validity of the...

Find Another Essay On Shakespeares Definition Of A Ghost

Definition of a Stock Essay

1145 words - 5 pages Definition of stock. A stock (also referred to as share or equity) is a security issued by a company that represents a stake of the ownership rights in the assets of the company and a share of its profits after payments of corporate liabilities and obligations. Stocks are sold and bought on an exchange. Corporations issue stock in order to raise capital to finance their operations. A stockholder is an owner of a company. A stockholder is an

Ghost of a Confederate Prisoner of War

1555 words - 6 pages Ghost of a Confederate Prisoner of War “Home. I want to go home,” the story begins of a Confederate prisoner of war. A friend’s grandmother, age 76 and a worker at the historic society, tells a story of Point Lookout. During the Civil War, the Union had a prison for captured Confederate soldiers near Point Lookout. With a warm and friendly voice that shows the sign of age, the storyteller joyfully recollects the story. She has the tale

A Baseline Definition of Culture

523 words - 3 pages concept of a shaping template and body of learned behaviors might be further broken down into the following categories, each of which is an important element of cultural systems:systems of meaning, of which language is primaryways of organizing society, from kinship groups to states and multi-national corporationsthe distinctive techniques of a group and their characteristic productsSeveral important principles follow from this definition of culture:If

A Comparative Analysis of Shakespeares "Shall I Compare Thee and Donne's The Flea

1812 words - 7 pages A Comparative Analysis of Shakespeares "Shall I Compare Thee and Donne's The Flea In "shall I Compare Thee" Shakespeare is addressing a woman, although it is not clear who, the most likely person is his dark lady. Shakespeare addresses this woman directly in a charming way. The poem is not said to of been set in a particular place but I believe it is more then likely to of have been set in a garden because the things

The Effectiveness of The Signalman as a Ghost Story

3107 words - 12 pages The Effectiveness of The Signalman as a Ghost Story This story utilizes a lot of horror and uses it in conjunction with mystery to move the plot along and keep the reader on the edge of their seat. When the author incorporates the horror into the story, not only is he keeping the reader puzzled, but he is also making the reader afraid. When an author can make the reader feel like this, then the elements of the story

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghost

2185 words - 9 pages Introduction “The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghost” Maxine Hong Kingston is a critically acclaimed memoir published in 1975 that presents her struggles and experiences during girlhood life in America as an immigrant Chinese girl. Finding voice of silenced women is the fundamental theme of “The Woman Warrior.” Through her memoirs, Maxine Hong Kingston gives a special language for the voiceless women to find their own identities

Give a reasoned definition of "globalization."

1475 words - 6 pages " is as complex and ambiguous as the process of globalization itself. This is also the reason why "sustainable explanations, precise evaluations and effective policies" for globalization are so difficult to find. But nevertheless, "the impossibility of a definitive definition does not reduce the need for rigorous conceptualization" , hence all the approaches addressed in this dissertation have to be treated as subject to alternation and

What is the definition of a friend?

606 words - 2 pages . If he makes a mistake and harms you can forgive him.Russell: So a friend is someone who can help you in times of need, not for any gain, not out of any obligation nor with the intention of harming you. He must also not lead you astray or forcefully make you do something against your will. A friend must also have true friendship with you and be your friend because of friendship. If he makes a mistake and harms you can forgive him?Marcus: Yes that is right.Russell: I think that is a very good definition and I cannot find an exception. So we shall end this discussion.

Home Schooling; a True Definition of Education?

1149 words - 5 pages this means that every home school student is socially well-adjusted or that home schooling is the only way for parents to raise a child successfully. However, These studies do suggest that a home schooling offers more than just educational benefits.The assumption that Home School parents are not expert enough to teach is based on faulty definition of education. Outcome based on education recognized that students need to develop and learn at their

Will & Grace: A New Definition of Conventional

2775 words - 11 pages Will & Grace: A New definition of Conventional Where are you on Thursday night? The likely answer is sitting in front of your television screen watching your favorite sitcom. If that is correct, then you are like the millions of other Americans that devote much of their time tuning into the craze of the situation comedy. The situation comedy has been apart of American culture for decades. Having its roots in radio, the situation comedy is

Who is a Child? The Definition of a Child

2399 words - 10 pages This research paper looks at the definition of a child as expressed in four fields: international law, international child convention, Sharia and Islamic law, and Arab countries. A child is considered any person below the age of 18 years of age. However, each of the four fields has its own modifications of the definition. For instance, the international law and international child conventional loosely consider the age of 18 years as the upper

Similar Essays

Shakespeare's Definition Of A Ghost Essay

1165 words - 5 pages Shakespeare's Definition of a GhostThe American Heritage Dictionary, published in 1973, defines a ghost as, 'the spirit or shade of a dead person, supposed to haunt living persons or former habitats.' Unfortunately, this simple definition does not explain where a ghost comes from or why it haunts. When used in the context of Shakespeare's Hamlet, this definition seems to suggest that the ghost who visits Hamlet truly is his dead father seeking

Tale Of A Ghost Sighting Essay

1296 words - 5 pages Poland, and at the age of eight moved to the Frederick. She is from an upper-middle class family; both her mother and father are chemists. The story was obtained late one night while working on homework and casually conversing. The topic of ghosts and the supernatural arose, and she informed me that she once saw a ghost firsthand. I inquired about her experience, and she willingly explained what had happened. “At this time in my life I lived

Definition Of A Profession Essay

646 words - 3 pages Definition of a Profession What is a profession? In simplest terms the word profession means: "a vocation requiring extensive education in science or the liberal arts and often specialized training" (Costella, R. (Ed.), et al. (1995) Random House Webster's College Dictionary. New York: Random House). Joseph T. Catalano (2000) defined a profession as, "A type of occupation that meets certain criteria...that raise it to a level above that

A Definition Of Genius Essay

1938 words - 8 pages Subjective EnvyMost of us, at one time or another, have called someone a 'genius.' The connotation is usually quite positive. It brings to mind images of Plato, Maria Curie, and Blaise Pascal. All of these people seemed to possess genius according to the dictionary definition: someone with extraordinary intellectual ability, originality and creative power, someone excelling in a strong natural talent (Dictionary.com, pars. 1). However, the