‘Kill your uncle, ignore your mother, avoid losing your sanity, and don’t worry about my suffering in the afterlife’—in simple terms, these are the Ghost’s four instructions in 1.5 to the title character of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The Ghost tinges his demands with emotional blackmail: “If thou didst ever thy dear father love …” But offers the prince no practical guidance: “However thou should accomplish this act …”
By the play’s end, Hamlet has broken every one of the directions issued by the “apparition” (1.1) who appears in the “questionable shape” (1.4) like “the King that’s dead” (1.1).
But, after many “purposes mistook” (5.2) and mirroring Laertes’ journey from revenge to forgiveness, the prince finds another way to keep the promise he made to his late father’s memory: “Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!” (1.5).
SHARE THE SHAKESPEARE