Hamlet and God

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William Shakespeare has written many pieces in the late 16th and early 17th century, period of wars of religion in England between catholic and protestant. England had just come under protestant rules but was surrounded and still had knowledge on catholic beliefs. Queen Elizabeth 1 prohibited the expression of religion in plays. Shakespeare was able to indirectly express thoughts and questions on religion, in a way to make the audience think and question themselves. In the play Hamlet, the Ghost is used as a figure of God and religion. Is the ghost really Hamlet’s father? Does it come from heaven or from hell? As Catholic believe in purgatory, which means that spirits are between heaven and hell until judgement is called, while protestants believe that the dead go immediately to heaven or hell and any ghost is evil, we can feel the confusion of these beliefs in the play. Hamlet was a man with religious beliefs, he is often referring to God in the play but is unsure whether the ghost is really his father’s spirit or if it is evil taking over his body. Hamlet was an educated man and wanted to be sure to do things correctly and make the right choices by fear of going to hell himself.

Hamlet questions himself more than once as to whether to ghost is good or evil and turns himself to God for answers. Once Horatio and Marcellus have brought Hamlet to the castles’ wall where they had seen the ghost, Hamlet’s first response is to pray to God ``God help us! Are you from Heaven or from Hell? King, Father, speak to me! Why has your dead body left your grave? Why do you walk around in the moonlight in soldiers’ clothes?`` (act 1, scene 2, p.5). Hamlet here is wondering whether his father’s apparition is good or evil and is therefore asking out loud for God’s help because he’s very confused. The ghost does not respond immediately but asks Hamlet with a sign to follow him which Hamlet does. Again, after hearing the ghosts’ story of his murder, Hamlet...
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