The ghost

Hamlet's father as a ghost

In William Shakespeare’s drama, “Hamlet”, the ghost embodies Hamlet's deceased and eponymous father, who ruled over Denmark as king before his death. He appears several times in the play, always dressed in the war armor (1.1.72) in which he won his greatest military victories. He appears in the uniform of a general, and is described as a "warlike form" (1.1.57) and as a "figure of terror in arms" (Act 1; Scene I). He is also completely pale and looks as if he is suffering greatly.

At the beginning of the plot, Hamlet's father is already no longer alive, so he only ever appears as a ghost. The statements of several characters, however, can provide insight into the character of the former king: Horatio calls him a brave warrior because he succeeded in defeating the old Norwegian king Fortinbras in a duel (1.1.95-99). Hamlet describes his father as an “excellent king” (1.2.141). 

The ghost of Hamlet's father has already appeared to the two guards Marcellus and Bernardo on the castle terrace in Elsinore before the play begins. He "look[s] like the king" (1.1.52). In his first appearance, the ghost is silent. He only shows himself to the two guards and then disappears again. The two soldiers are so disturbed by the horror that they ask Hamlet's college friend Horatio to go and see the situation for himself.

Horatio and Hamlet's intervention

Horatio keeps watch for the third night with Marcellus and Bernardo to see the ghost with his own eyes. Indeed, the ghost reappears that night. Although the ghost makes Horatio "rigid with fear and wonder" (1.1.53), he tries to address it. But the ghost does not answer any of his questions and cannot be stopped even by force of arms, disappearing again at the first crowing of the cock (1.1.172).

Horatio feels obliged to tell his friend Hamlet about the mysterious and supernatural apparition. He tells Hamle...

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