Good vs Evil

“To be, or not to be, that is the question” (Act 3, scene 1, 55)

The famous line from Hamlet which is almost universally known. I have just started reading Hamlet by Shakespeare in the English class and one of the foreshadowing aspects within the first Act which caught my eye is related to King Hamlet’s ghost.

The ghost is one of the few ‘characters’ which appears at the very start of the play and is mentioned to throughout the rest of the play. Throughout the first Act, there is this tension between the characters of trying to figure out whether the ghost of the dead King represents good news or bad news for the country’s fate. The only real connection the ghost has with being connected to good future events is that that the ghost looks extremely like the dead King Hamlet which who was said to have been a great King of Denmark and that he was adored by people.

On the opposite side, there are many factors which can link the ghost with evil events that seem to take over the fact that the ghost could be good for the country and also adds a huge sense of foreshadowing for the plot of the rest of the play. Below is a chart showing the different factors which contribute to the debate of whether the ghost is good or evil.


Setting does play a role when the symbolism of the ghost’s appearances are being analyzed. When the readers are first introduced to the ghost ( the second appearance for Marcellus and Horatio) the ghost is linked with the night, midnight, and the bitterness of the night, which all connect the ghost with negative and bad foreshadowing.

The link that I’ve posted above shows how Hamlet links the ghost with a different sense of good and evil: God and the devil. This link explains how Hamlets first reaction to the ghost is that it is sent from the devil and that he needs to protect himself from it by saying “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!” 1.4. 39)”


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