Haunted: Hamlet's Relationship With His Dead Father

William Shakespeare's Hamlet, a story grounded in worldly issues like morality, justice, and retribution, begins in a very otherworldly way: the appearance of a ghost desiring vengeance from beyond the grave. The supernatural confrontation between Hamlet and the ghost of his father is perhaps the most important scene in the play, however, as it not only sets the stage for the tragic whirlwind of emotion and death that follows, but offers some of the deepest insight into Hamlet's character and relationship with his beloved father that the text has to offer. In the short conversation between the two, the intense admiration and respect Hamlet has for his father is plainly revealed, as well as the differences between the father and the son that account for Hamlet's inability to act or find concrete moral truths in his world. While Hamlet is continuously conflicted about the issues of death and the afterlife, morality, and violent retribution throughout the play, the ghost of his father sees the situation as nothing more than a case of crime deserving punishment, a concept so simple yet effective that the constantly philosophical Hamlet cannot fully grasp it and is ultimately destroyed by it.

The memory of the dead king...

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