Ghost (Hamlet)

The ghost of Hamlet's father is a character from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. In the stage directions he is referred to as "Ghost". His name is also Hamlet, and he is referred to as King Hamlet to distinguish him from the Prince.

He is loosely based on a legendary Jutish chieftain, named Horwendill, who appears in Chronicon Lethrense and in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum. According to oral tradition, the Ghost was originally played by Shakespeare himself.[1]

Hamlet character
027-Hamlet-Svenska teatern 4
The Ghost (right) appears to Hamlet (left) in the "closet scene", from Rowe's edition of Shakespeare's works (1709), showing the Prince and Queen in contemporary dress; the former king's portrait is on the wall behind
FamilyGertrude (wife)
Prince Hamlet (son)
King Claudius (brother)
Other name(s)King Hamlet (former)

In Hamlet

The Ghost appears three times in the play: in Act I, Scene i; in the continuum of Act I, Scenes iv and v; and Act III, Scene iv. The Ghost arrives at 1.00 a.m. in at least two of the scenes, and in the other scene all that is known is that it is night.

The Ghost first appears to a duo of soldiers—Bernardo and Marcellus—and Hamlet's friend, Horatio. The men draw their swords and stand in fear, requesting that Horatio, as a scholar, address the Ghost. Horatio asks the Ghost to speak, and reveal its secret. It is about to do so when the cock crows, signalling morning, and the Ghost instead disappears. In this scene, the Ghost is clearly recognised by all present as the King, dressed in his full armour. Marcellus notes that the Ghost had appeared to the castle guards twice before. Talk of spectral visitations has unsettled the night watch. Francisco, who Bernardo relieves on guard duty says, "For this relief much thanks; 'tis bitter cold,/And I am sick at heart."[2]

Seeing the Ghost arrayed in a military aspect, and aware that the Norwegian crown prince Fortinbras is marshalling his forces on the frontier, Horatio recognises that the appearance of the Ghost must portend something regarding matters of state.[2]

Horatio then persuades Prince Hamlet into staying up with the guards to see if the Ghost returns. At midnight, it appears, and beckons Hamlet to follow. Once alone, the Ghost describes his wanderings on the earth, and his harrowing life in purgatory, since he died without receiving last rites.

He tells the young Hamlet that he was poisoned and murdered by his brother, Claudius, the new King of Denmark, and asks the prince to avenge his death. He also expresses disgust at his wife, Gertrude, for marrying Claudius, but warns Hamlet not to confront her, but to leave that to Heaven. Later, Prince Hamlet returns to his friends and has them swear on his sword to keep what they have seen a secret. When they resist, the Ghost utters the words "Swear" and "Swear on the sword", from below the stage, until his friends agree.

Prince Hamlet, fearing that the apparition may be a demon pretending to be King Hamlet, decides to put the Ghost to the test by staging a play that re-enacts the circumstances that the spirit claims led to his death. Claudius' reaction is one of guilt and horror, and Prince Hamlet is convinced that the Ghost is, in fact, his father.

In the third appearance, Hamlet is confronted by the Ghost in his mother's closet, and is rebuked for not carrying out his revenge and for disobeying his instruction by talking to Gertrude. Hamlet fearfully apologises. Gertrude, however, cannot see the Ghost, and thinks Hamlet is mad, asking why he stares and talks to nothing. In this scene, the Ghost is described as being in his nightgown. He is never mentioned again.

King Hamlet is described by the few characters who mention him—basically Hamlet, Horatio and the guards—as a warrior, as he led Denmark's forces to victory against Norway, and personally defeated its King Fortinbras in hand-to-hand combat. Hamlet respects him, saying Claudius pales in comparison to him, and frequently reflecting on him in an endearing manner.


Harvard Theatre Collection - TS Promptbooks Sh 154.75, Henry Irving 1874
The prompt book from an 1874 staging of Hamlet by English actor and manager Henry Irving (1838–1905), in which he experimented with using limelight (burning calcium oxide) to represent the ghost.

The Ghost in Hamlet is fundamental to the plot,[4][5] and has been the subject of a variety of interpretations. Shakespeare scholar W. W. Greg was of the opinion that the Ghost was a figment of Hamlet's overwrought imagination.[6] Shakespeare scholar J. Dover Wilson and others have argued that in having the Ghost appear a number of times to others before appearing to Hamlet, Shakespeare makes clear that the apparition is not a mere illusion.[4]


About a hundred years after Shakespeare died, the poet Nicholas Rowe reported that he had heard an anecdote that Shakespeare himself had played the Ghost, starting a story that is still given credence.[1] Modern actors portraying the Ghost include Laurence Olivier,[7] Paul Scofield,[8] Patrick Stewart,[9] and Brian Blessed.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Sylvan Barnet, "Shakespeare: An Overview," in Macbeth, ed. Sylvan Barnet, A Signet Classic, 1998, p. ix.
  2. ^ a b Egan, Maurice Francis. The Ghost in Hamlet and Other Essays in Comparative Literature. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co, 1906. pp. 11–47
  3. ^ "Hamlet (Folio 1, 1623)".
  4. ^ a b Joseph, Miriam (12 September 1961). "Discerning the Ghost in Hamlet". PMLA. 76 (5): 493–502. doi:10.2307/460542. JSTOR 460542.
  5. ^ Wilson, J. Dover (2 January 1951). What Happens in Hamlet. Cambridge University Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780521091091. Retrieved 12 September 2018 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Greg, W.W., "Hamlet's Hallucinations", MLR, XII, 1917, 393–421
  7. ^ Barker, Felix (1953) The Oliviers ("...the actor playing the ghost [was] Olivier himself..." p259)
  8. ^ James, Caryn. "Review/Film; From Mad Max to a Prince Possessed". Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  9. ^ Interview with Sir Patrick Stewart
  10. ^ Masters, Tim (29 June 2016). "Brian Blessed: My heart specialist says I'm Terminator 4". Retrieved 31 August 2018 – via

External links

Haider (film)

Haider is a 2014 Indian tragic crime film written, produced and directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, and co-written by Basharat Peer. It stars Shahid Kapoor as the titular protagonist, and co-stars Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon. Irrfan Khan appears in an extended special appearance. The film is both a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet and an adaptation of Basharat Peer's memoir Curfewed Night, set amidst the insurgency-hit Kashmir conflicts of 1995 and civilian disappearances. Haider, a young student and a poet, returns to Kashmir at the peak of the conflict to seek answers about his father's disappearance and ends up being tugged into the politics of the state.Haider is the third installment of Bhardwaj's Shakespearean trilogy after Maqbool (2003) and Omkara (2006). The film was screened at the 19th Busan International Film Festival, and released worldwide on 2 October 2014 to wide critical acclaim, however the film was ultimately failed at the box office and garnered attention from the media due to its controversial subject matter. The direction, performances of Kay Kay Menon, Tabu and Shraddha Kapoor, screenplay, film score and editing received praise and garnered several accolades.

Haider was the first Indian film to win the People's Choice Award at the Rome Film Festival. Among several awards and nominations in India, the film won five National Film Awards: Best Male Playback Singer, Best Dialogue, Best choreography, Best Costume Design, and Best Music Direction.

Hamlet (Thomas)

Hamlet is a grand opera in five acts of 1868 by the French composer Ambroise Thomas, with a libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier based on a French adaptation by Alexandre Dumas, père, and Paul Meurice of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet.


Hemanta is a 2016 Bengali language drama thriller film directed by Anjan Dutt. It stars Parambrata Chatterjee in the role of the titular protagonist, with Jisshu Sengupta, Payel Sarkar, Gargi Roychowdhury, Saswata Chatterjee and Shantilal Mukherjee in other pivotal roles. The film is a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, amidst a massive Bengal production house.


Horwendill is a legendary Jutish chieftain in Chronicon Lethrense and in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum (book 3).

John Beal (composer)

John Beal (born in Santa Monica, California) is an internationally recognized American film composer and conductor working in Hollywood, California and around the world. He has conducted for major recording artists ranging from Olivia Newton-John to Deadmau5, movies in concert such as the Harry Potter series, is the principal conductor of the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra, is an award-winning composer of film trailer music, and has composed the music for numerous television series and films.

List of William Shakespeare screen adaptations

The Guinness Book of Records lists 410 feature-length film and TV versions of William Shakespeare's plays, making Shakespeare the most filmed author ever in any language.As of July 2018, the Internet Movie Database lists Shakespeare as having writing credit on 1,371 films, including those under production but not yet released. The earliest known production is King John from 1899.

Musquaro River

The River Musquaro flows south in the municipality of Côte-Nord-du-Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent, Quebec, in the Le Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent Regional County Municipality, in the administrative region of Côte-Nord (North-Shore), in Quebec, in Canada.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

This is a list of winners and nominees of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Before 1975, supporting actors featured in a miniseries or movie were included in categories such as comedy or drama. From 1975 to 1978, the award was called Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Special. Despite the category's name, actors appearing in many episodes of a miniseries were included. In 1979, the award was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Special. The award was renamed again in 1986 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special. By 1998, the award was renamed Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.

Visor (armor)

A visor was used in conjunction with some Medieval war helmets such as the bascinet. The visor usually consisted of a hinged piece of steel that contained openings for breathing ("breaths") and vision. Visors protected the face during battle. Most knights or warriors who wore visors usually were spotted on horses during war, and more specifically in tournaments. The word beaver is sometimes used interchangeably with visor, as in Shakespeare's Hamlet, when Hamlet and Horatio are discussing the Ghost. Hamlet says: "Then saw you not his face?" to which Horatio responds "O yes, my lord. He wore his beaver up [i.e., his visor raised]".

Template:Elements of Medieval Armor

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