I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd 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. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prisonhouse,
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,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
In the day of the Elizabethan era, ghost were thought to be real
and the two largest popularly known religions were “Protestant or Catholic religion”
(elizabethanera.org.uk). Only by understanding the religious beliefs of heaven and hell, sinning
, and coming back from the dead, will someone be able to truly and fully appreciate the
passage. We must also understand purgatory, which is a part of Catholic belief. As well as have
knowledge of mortality, as people are mortals.
In the Elizabethan Era, ghost were known to roam the earth and have the ability to
speak to their loved ones that still lived upon it. This is an importance for this passage and this
scene, so that the reader is able to understand why and how Hamlet is talking to a ghost of his
father, as well as understand why Horatio and Marcellus cannot hear the ghost. Catholicism is
very important for this passage, since the ideation of this passage is based around Catholicism.
In the Catholic beliefs, there is a place called purgatory, which is essentially a waiting room for
people who have sinned to go to heaven as a way to punish them. This is where the ghost
claims to stay during the day, since he has sinned in his life. It is also important to understand
what sinning is because that is why he is here. Sinning is basically doing something bad that
your religion or your religious leader (e.g. God) does not find acceptable.
Alchin, Linda. Religion in Elizabethan England. Siteseen Ltd. Web.
Visited July 18, 2016.
Shakespeare, William. "Act 1. Scene V."
Hamlet by William Shakespeare:. Jalic INC, n.d. Web.