Literary analysis of Passage in Act 1 scene 5
The passage presents the entry of a ghost speaking to Hamlet about things he believes are factual and of great significance. The ghost comes in form of his father’s spirit and confesses that he is confined in a kind of prison known as purgatory where he is recompensing for all the sins he committed when he was still alive. For instance, he says, “ I am thy father’s spirit; Doomed for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confined to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away.” Shakespeare uses this line to portray what happens when a person dies; that there is continuity of life and them who died as sinners pay for their sins in this kind of. Therefore, this article is an essay that gives an in-depth analysis of what transpires in this passage in relation to literary styles, devices, themes and characterization.
First, the passage speaks volumes about Shakespeare’s religion. The author expresses his belief in existence of purgatory which is a belief system developed by Catholics but rejected by Protestants. It shows continuity of life whereby the death of a person is not the end of his her life but the start of another life in a different place but observing what happens in the world behind. This is illustrated when the ghost says he is a father’s spirit. Meaning, he was a person implying that gender and age does not transform when one becomes a ghost but rather just the body. Speaking of a ghost delineates the fact that they are able to assert their influence in the physical realm and control the normal happenings. Therefore, it is possible to tell Shakespeare’s belief system through this passage especially life after death and existence of ghosts and spirits which can exert influence in the physical realm.
A number of themes are featured in this passage. The first is the theme of secrecy. This is illustrated in the appearance of the ghost in secret and the events that follows happens in absence of every one. Besides, the ghost tells Hamlet about the secrets of the prison house that he should not reveal. For instance, he says, “But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison-house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres…” It means that there are things he reserved from telling Hamlet because they would indeed shock him beyond measure. The supernatural world also comes out to be a secret one in that those living in the physical have no access to it until they die and even the activities there are not defined by many. Another theme is revenge. This is illustrated when the ghost says, “But this eternal blazon must not be To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list! If thou didst ever thy dear father love” implying that he died against his wishes and out of Hamlet’s love for him, he ought to ensure that someone takes responsibility for his death. Therefore, secrecy is developed from thee appearance of the ghost to revelation of secrets of the prison house while revenge from the words of the ghost to Hamlet.
The main characterization for this passage is the traits of the ghost. The ghost is depicted as a bitter person longing for revenge. It is because of bitterness that he came from purgatory to tell Hamlet about his true feelings. Besides, he is also bitter of the fact that he is purgatory paying for his sins and someone cut short his life. He is also regretful saying he was snatched away from his sinful life. He is also secret illustrated by the fact that he knew of secrets from prison house and came to reveal them to the Hamlet. The fact that he only appeared to an individual indicates the secret aspect of a ghost. In addition, he is responsible shown when he says he is a father’s spirit hence was obligated to appear to the son and talk to him regarding what he ought to do. Therefore, the ghost is characterized as bitter, secretive, vengeful and secretive.
The tone of the passage is generally grief; however, the undertone of bitterness is vividly described. It is also well illustrated in the ghost’s speech which is also very persuasive. For instance, he remarks, “…Thy knotted and combined locks to part And each particular hair to stand on end, Like quills upon the fretful porpentine…..”This is an expression of grief with bitterness burning deep within him.
In conclusion, this is a rich passage whereby the author expressed his religious stand point, belief in the supernatural existence and continuity of life after death. Indisputably, the passage is developed using key literary devices such as symbolism, themes, characterization and suspense thus becoming one of the most interesting passages in the book.
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