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Supernatural in Shakespeare's Plays

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Supernatural in Shakespeare's Plays

In the time of William Shakespeare there was a strong belief
in the existence of the supernatural. Thus, the supernatural is a

recurring aspect in many of Mr. Shakespeare's plays. In two such

plays, Hamlet and Macbeth, the supernatural is an integral part of

the structure of the plot. It provides a catalyst for action, an

insight into character, and augments the impact of many key scenes.

The supernatural appears to the audience in many varied forms. In

Hamlet there appears perhaps the most notable of the supernatural

forms, the ghost. However, in Macbeth, not only does a ghost appear

but a floating dagger, witches, and prophetic apparitions make

appearances. The role of the supernatural is very important in Hamlet

and Macbeth.

A ghost, appearing in the form of Hamlet's father, makes

several appearances in the play. It first appears to the watchmen,

Marcellus and Bernardo, along with Horatio near the guardsmens' post.

The ghost says nothing to them and is perceived with fear and

apprehension, 'It harrows me with fear and wonder'. It is not until

the appearance of Hamlet that the ghost speaks, and only then after

Horatio has expressed his fears about Hamlet following it, 'What if it

tempt you toward the flood, my lord, or to the dreadful summit of the


The conversation between the ghost and Hamlet serves as a

catalyst for Hamlet's later actions and provides insight into Hamlet's

character. The information the ghost reveals incites Hamlet into

action against a situation he was already uncomfortable with, and now

even more so. Hamlet is not quick to believe the ghost, 'The spirit

that I have seen may be a devil... and perhaps out of my weakness and

my melancholy..abuses me to damn me', and thus an aspect of Hamlet's

character is revealed. Hamlet, having no suspicion of the ghost after

the production by the players, encounters the ghost next in his

mother's room. In this scene the ghost makes an appearance to 'whet'

Hamlet's 'almost blunted purpose'. Hamlet is now convinced of the

ghost and he no longer harbors any suspicion. He now listens to it,

'Speak to her, Hamlet'.

In Hamlet, the supernatural is the guiding force behind

Hamlet. The ghost ask Hamlet to seek revenge for the King's ...

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