The Ghosts Deception

The Ghost in Hamlet cleared out the event that Hamlet was uncertain of. The spirit clarified the death of King Hamlet, and caused Hamlet to perform his evil deeds. The Ghosts request to avenge him caused the death of Hamlets family, friends, and eventually himself; therefore, the spirit can be viewed as evil because it failed the four tests that was set by Lewes Lavater and the Church.
Lewes Lavater describes how the church determines if a ghost is evil or good. The first description is good spirits terrify initially, but ultimately comfort. The spirit does not cause comfort to Hamlet. Throughout the play, the Ghost causes trouble among the characters. According to Eleanor Prosser:
The Ghost has done everything possible to taint Hamlets mind with lacerating grief, sexual nausea, hatred, and fury. It has just focused its appeal on the lewd picture that Hamlet knows can most corrupt him and it says, Taint not they mind!
Hamlet decided to kill Claudius because the Ghost wanted to avenge his death. Hamlet was obsessed to killing Claudius, which caused him his insanity. His insanity caused the death of Polonius, which lead to the death of Ophelia. The death of Ophelia led to the death of Laertes, which led to the death of the queen and king, and eventually Hamlet himself. The source of these strings of death is the Ghost.
The Ghost calls Hamlet deep into this world of disruption. Its invitation to decapitate the body politic seems a horrific charge (O cursed spite), and by the end of the play it will manifestly be so: Ophelia will have been emotionally brutalized and lost to lunatic distraction; the king and queen will have been pierced with hateful insight, their attempts to reconstitute a harmonious political entity shattered; the populace will have been raised to the brink of revolt; Polonius, Rosencranzt, Guildenstern, Ophelia, Gertrude, Laertes, and Hamlet himself will have fallen as more or less innocent victims before Claudius finally does; and Denmark itself will be put in the hands of the reckless young marauder whose hostile approach the sentries anticipated at the beginning of the play.
The source of all these problems is the Ghost. Therefore, the Ghost is evil because it has caused the demise and tribulations of all these characters. The spirits original intention was this and has fulfilled his private revenge through Hamlet.
The second way to determine if a Ghost is evil is good spirits associate with light; evil with darkness. When the Ghost appeared to Hamlet, the environment in the play was dark. The darkness is not only associated with the environment but also to the Ghosts words about scripture.
But that is what we are warned the Devil will do: in order to disguise himself as an angel of light, he will clothe his naked villany with a piece of scripture. Catholics and Protestants both agreed that the mere repetition of Christian doctrine proved nothing. Both warned that we must be alert to the speakers ultimate purpose.
The Ghost said Leave her to heaven.(I,v, 93)By using scripture words, the spirit may be trying to disguise himself to get Hamlet to perform his evil deed. If the Ghost was good, it will not use any words from the scripture to convince Hamlet to kill Claudius. To fool men, a spirit will often return in the guise of ones parents. The spirit uses the body of Hamlets father to carry its purpose. It is hiding its villainy behind the great King Hamlet to convince him to kill Claudius.
The third way to determine the state of the Ghost is evil spirits command that which is counter to the church. In the Renaissance revenge was forbidden as belonging to God The private revenge, which the Ghost had planned, directly counters the church.
He saw vengeance and punishment as an imprisonment of the will in concentrating on the past in an effort to undo what could not be undone. This, yea, this is very vengeance! Wills abhorrence of time and its It was. The Ghosts planned to use Hamlet as his weapon for revenge counters God. Also, vengeance is allowed if God sends the Ghost as his agent, and it is very clear that he didnt. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell? Hamlet is wondering whether the Ghost is from heaven or hell. The Ghost is asking him to murder his uncle, which Hamlet knows that it is against the church. If God sends the Ghost, then why does the Ghost want Hamlet and his friends to swear that they did not see anything that night? Also, if Hamlet thought that the Ghost is completely right, then why didnt he kill Claudius right away?
If he absolutely believed that the Ghost was right, he would immediately go off and kill the King in any normal play. But is theres a half of him that doubts it, if his self mockery is so great, and his self-distrust is great enough, then one half of him would be humorously inclined to believe that this Ghost is a devil.
Hamlet may have believed that the Ghost may be telling him to do something wrong. He must have thought that the Ghost may not be an agent from God but from hell. This is why he did not Claudius right away. He was waiting for Claudius to give a signal that he was guilty of the crime, such as the actors acting the death of King Hamlet.
Public revenge was considered allowable in which the agent acted as God’s minister or representative to right a wrong for the public good.This means that the Ghosts appearance should be open to the public because the revenge is good, and God wants people to participate in something good. Never to speak of this that you have seen, swear by my sword. Swear by his sword. The Ghost, making Hamlets friends swears, means that this revenge is private. Also, Hamlets bitter self-hatred in these lines stems from his conviction that, in order to act the part of the revenger, he must plunge deep into the bodily passion that he so despises, and perhaps become a bloody villain himself. The spirit was able to convince him to perform his private revenge, however, was unable to accomplish the action because Hamlet thought about the state of the Ghost.
The fourth way to determine whether the spirit is evil is good spirits profess humility; evil spirits will threaten and use vile language. The Ghost spoke to Hamlet by using vile language about Claudius.
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witch craft of his (wit) with traitorous gifts
O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce! won to his shameful lust . . .
O horrible, o horrible, most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
If the spirit were good, he would have not talked about Claudius this way. The way the spirit spoke seems like he was forcing Hamlet to avenge him because he belittled Hamlet and described that he should be the next one in the throne. A good spirit will not force anyone to act against his will. Clearly, the spirit was using words of encouragement to carry out his evil deed. The Ghost fills the linguistic fabric of his play with images of broken bodies, much as the fat knight generates images of sensory gratification and discomfort. The spirit brings gruesome images in the play, and a good spirit will bring beautiful images.
Lavater said, Evil spirits will often speak the truth. The spirit did speak the truth to Hamlet. Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole, with juice of cursed hebona in a vial, and in the porches of my ears did pour. The truth harmed him and caused him many dangers. If the spirit is good, then the Ghost should not cause harm. The truth is evil and this means that the Ghost is evil.
The Ghost in Hamlet is evil because it falls into the category that Lavater outlined. The churchs description also matches an evil spirit. The Ghost caused more harm than comfort, and a good spirit is the opposite of that. The Ghost is not a messenger from God because he wanted Hamlet to perform private revenge, not public. The spirit also defied the church by acting under his own ambition, not Gods. He told the truth to Hamlet and this him his life. The spirit is evil because it caused more harm than good. This last quote from John Hunt describes evil state of the Ghost. The Ghost is simultaneously insubstantial and a horrifying memento of all that rots, seeming to embody the very forces of corporeal ruin that Hamlet fears may be inimical virtue.
Bibliography:
Lewes Lavater. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
Eleanor Prosser. Spirit of Health or Goblin Damned? Hamlet and Revenge. (New York: Stanford Press. 1971), pp. 137
John Hunt. A Thing of Nothing: The Catastrophic Body In Hamlet Shakespearean Quarterly Volume 39 #1 (Spring 1988), pp. 35
Lewes Lavater. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
Eleanor Prosser. Spirit of Health or Goblin Damned? Hamlet and Revenge. (New York: Stanford Press. 1971), pp. 137
William Shakespeare. Hamlet edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992) All future references will come from this text.
Thomas Nash. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
Special Note On Revenge. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
Philip Edwards. The Ghost Shakespearean Criticism Volume 44, (1985), pp.126
I, v, 99-100
Richard Burton with Richard L. Sterne. Interview Shakespearean Criticism Volume 21, (August 3, 1964), pp.246
Special Note On Revenge. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
I, v, 180-182
John Hunt. A Thing of Nothing: The Catastrophic Body In Hamlet Shakespearean Quarterly Volume 39 #1 (Spring 1988), pp. 39
Lewes Lavater. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
I, v, 49-52, 87-90
John Hunt. A Thing of Nothing: The Catastrophic Body In Hamlet Shakespearean Quarterly Volume 39 #1 (Spring 1988), pp. 32
Lewes Lavater. Renaissance Theories of Ghost and Demons. http://stjohns-chs.org/english/Renaissance/Ren-gh.html
I, v, 68-70
John Hunt. A Thing of Nothing: The Catastrophic Body In Hamlet Shakespearean Quarterly Volume 39 #1 (Spring 1988), pp. 35

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