"I Have Seen Nothing": Hamlet and His Home
Hamlet begins at the open mouth of the Void. Barnardo and Francisco call out to each other and into darkness; they stand atop a guard platform that is naked to the open air and to the night. Every character's entrance is marked by a series of interrogatives, as characters already on stage try to ascertain the identity of those who are newly arrived and yet unseen. Darkness isolates these men from each other as they stand on the edge of civilization, the place where the solid stones of Elsinore castle open up into the world of night and the supernatural. The nature of the ghost remains debatable: Horatio has initially insisted that the guards' delusions have conjured the phantom (1.1.21), and, even accepting the reality of the apparition, Catholic teaching (ghosts are spirits of the dead coming up from purgatory) and Protestant doctrine (all ghostly apparitions are demons in disguise) hold divergent opinions on the nature and source of phantoms (Garber 12/15). The men have gathered together on the guard platform, which has become a kind of stage within a stage. They have come to see a visitor who is a creature of hallucination, purgatory, or hell. This ghost is coming out of the open maw of night above and around the...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1030 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7912 literature essays, 2227 sample college application essays, 341 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in