Generally, the tragic downfall of the protagonist in the end of most of revenge tragedies is indebted to the theme of revenge and its far-reaching consequences. The renowned play by William Shakespeare, named as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, portrays the downfall of the protagonist, especially the hidden reason/secret behind the downfall. To be specific, the scope of the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is beyond a Shakespearean revenge tragedy because the same helps the audience to have deeper understanding of the Ghost’s role in the tragic downfall of the protagonist.
Thesis statement: The aspect of revenge in the character of the Ghost is the reason behind the manipulation and tragedy faced by the protagonist in the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
The Ghost: revenge, manipulation, and tragedy
This section is broadly divided into three: revenge (the Ghost and the aspect of revenge), manipulation (the Ghost and manipulation Hamlet’s inner conscience), and tragedy (the Ghost and tragedy in the Play Hamlet).
The Ghost and the aspect of revenge
In the play, revenge is the most important aspect of the character of the Ghost. To be specific, the Ghost is symbolic of King Hamlet’s attitude towards Claudius, who cheated his father. So, the aspect of revenge is transferred from King Hamlet to his spirit, the Ghost. Besides, the one and only factor behind the Ghost’s appearance before Prince Hamlet is to lead him towards revenge. Jeffrey Burton Russell stated that, “Speaking no word of love to Hamlet, he advises his son only to press for revenge” (184). But the Ghost does not try to create hatred towards Gertrude, who was forced to marry the murderer. Within this scenario, the aspect of revenge in the character of the Ghost is limited to the context of the murderer. In addition, the playwright makes use of the murder story as the main aspect behind the Ghost’s aim to take revenge.
The Ghost and manipulation Hamlet’s inner conscience
From a different angle of view, the aspect of revenge in the character of the Ghost leads to the manipulation of Hamlet’s inner conscience. Earlier, Prince Hamlet suspected that his uncle is the mastermind behind the murder. But lack of evidence hindered him from taking stern action against his uncle. The Ghost advised Prince Hamlet that he must collect evidence and act against his uncle. David Gurnham made clear that, “The Ghost plays on the younger man’s reverence for his war-like father and manipulates Hamlet by encouraging him to feel that in failing to be moved to violent revenge, he will show himself to be less than a true man and less than a true son” (47). So, one can see that the Ghost made use of verbosity to manipulate Hamlet’s inner conscience. The Ghost was visible to Prince Hamlet and his friends. This limited visibility is a strong evidence for the Ghost’s decision to manipulate Hamlet. To be specific, Hamlet’s mind was craving for revenge. When the Ghost motivated Prince Hamlet, his hatred towards his uncle became strong enough to commit a murder.
The Ghost and tragedy in the Play Hamlet
The aspect of revenge in the character of the Ghost is the grass root level reason behind the tragedy in the play, especially the tragic downfall of the protagonist. One can easily identify the fact that the Ghost’s motivation leads the protagonist to think that his ultimate aim is not to rule over Denmark but to kill his uncle. Besides, the Ghost makes use of Prince Hamlet as a tool to attain its aim. John Bayley stated that, “Instead of making him purposeful and methodical, secret and single-minded, the revelation of the ghost opens him up to every fresh sensation and awareness” (184). On the other hand, Claudius and Gertrude were aware of the fact that Prince Hamlet is aiming to destroy his enemy. But they did not suspect that the Ghost of King Hamlet is helping Prince Hamlet. In the end, Prince Hamlet was able to attain his aim, but was forced to sacrifice his life. So, the Ghost is the mastermind behind the tragedy in the play.
Summing, the Ghost of King Hamlet is symbolic of the aspect of revenge in the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Besides, the aspect of revenge is inherent in the character of the Ghost. One can see that the Ghost influences Prince Hamlet and makes use of him to fulfill its aim. This manipulation/influence leads Prince Hamlet towards untimely death in the end. The Ghost deeply influences the Prince Hamlet because he believed that the Ghost is the spirit of his deceased father. In short, Prince Hamlet’s tragedy is the by-product of the aspect of revenge in the character of the Ghost.
Bayley, John. Shakespeare and Tragedy. London: Routledge, 1981. Print.
Gurnham, David. Memory, Imagination, Justice: Intersections of Law and Literature. Cornwall: Ashgate Publishing, 2009. Print.
Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History. New York: Cornell University Press, 1992. Print.