Blog: Shakespeare’s Hamlet (A) – The Ghost Scene

Blog: Shakespeare’s Hamlet - The Ghost Scene (A)

By Evan Papamichael

Manuscript Master Evan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


Source: Hamlet – New Swan Shakespeare Advanced Series

General Editor: Bernard Lott M.A. Ph.D.

Twelfth Impression 1979

Longman Group Limited London

Kyodo-Shing Loong Printing Industries Pty Ltd, Singapore


Scene V: Enter Ghost and Hamlet pp.38-39

Prince Hamlet is confronted by, his father’s ghost. It explains how King Hamlet was murdered by his brother – Claudius. Our Protagonist is communicating with the supernatural. It is an eerie, mystical and horrifying environment, in the Ghost scene.  We find a brutal death, which was crafty, sinister and calculated – the way it was instigated.

Lott (38: 1979) states: …“The crime was committed by Claudius pouring deadly poison into the ear [of King Hamlet; who was Hamlet’s father] and falsely claimed that the deceased was bitten by a snake.”…

Claudius then married his late brother’s wife, Gertrude (who was Hamlet’s mother). This was to Prince Hamlet’s disgust. While finding out the facts – Hamlet will avenge his father’s murder. No fault is placed on Gertrude.


Act 1 Scene V line 9

Ghost: …”Doomed for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confined to fast in fires”… “fast” means to suffer torment. Fire burns and refines -  what is filthy.

…”Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature”… - meaning a, generation of existence.

By “doomed” we see a feeling of destruction and “night” suggests the black atmosphere where we cannot see the unknown dangers confronting us and “to fast in fires” personifies one burning in hell to pay for their sins; or an eternal form of suffering which all God fearing souls dread to face.

…“foul crimes done in days of nature”… shows the original sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; which eventuated in the Fall of Man.


Line 16

…”Would harrow up thy soul”…

According to Lott (1979:40):

this is …“a very moving image; where a harrow is a heavy frame with iron teeth which is used for breaking up humps on earth on ploughed land; “up” suggests doing the action thoroughly so that harrow up is to wound with innumerable terrible events.”…

Depicting that, one’s own Holy Spirit is being corrupted. Deep piercing teeth made of solid metal; which annihilates to pieces; and, a throbbing “wound” which results in a deterioration of the circumstances.


Line 17

…“Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres”…

Lott (1979: 40) highlights that:

…“Sphere is associated with the simile of the stars. The   ancients explained the movements of the heavenly bodies in the sky by assuming that each was fixed inside an invisible hallow sphere, and that these spheres all had the earth as their center.”…

Harrow is - very deep, thorough, damaging, forceful, strong, penetrating and dangerous. For it causes destruction to the earth; by something as solid as “iron teeth”. This depicts a ferocious prehistoric beast; being present next to Hamlet; which results in, devastation, death, danger and disaster.

A reference is made to the galaxy. The stars are juxtaposed with the Ancient Greeks who were interested in Astrology. “Heavenly Bodies” refers to the Pagan Idol Gods such as Zeus, Athena and (the Water God) Poseidon. They “each” had their own place on earth; which was central to this galaxy of imaginary, mythical, supreme beings.




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