Hamlet -Ghosts in revenge tragedies

Ghosts in revenge tragedies

“Witches, demons and angels were real and people the natural world; magic was possible and was employed by various people for good or ill.” – Helen Parish and William Naphy (2003)

  • Revenge tragedies were the most popular form of tragedy in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. It can be argued that its “most highest expression” (Encyclopaedia Britannica) was in Hamlet.
     The idea of revenge in the Shakespearean era was the first manifestation of the consciousness of justice -the only way a wrong could be righted
  • This form was originally created by the Roman dramatist Seneca but was established on the English stage by Thomas Kyd in his tragedy, “The Spanish Tragedy”(performed in 1587).
  • The main purposes of ghosts in revenge tragedies are to:
     Persuade their friends/family members to avenge their deaths- the ghost in Hamlet commands his son to “revenge his most foul and unnatural murder!”(1.5, line 25). In Seneca’s texts they are “wailing insistent spectres that emerge from Hades to demand vengeance” (Dr Liam McNamara)
     Expose the motivations and…

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