The ghost in Hamlet is a crucial part of the story that not all characters can see. He tells Hamlet of his father’s murder and encourages him to get revenge. The role of the ghost in Hamlet is to add a tense setting, add unpredictability, and ignite the conflict.
In Act I scene I, Horatio observes that ‘This bodes some strange eruption to our state’ to which Marcellus replies ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark'(Shakespeare 1.5). These show that even before the Ghost appears, the scene is tense. The first words asking who’s there are abrupt and anxious. Even Francisco, who represents the unseen population of Denmark, admits that he is ‘sick at heart'(Shakespeare 1.1). The Ghost’s presence is affecting people around it and contributes to the sense that something is very wrong. They compare this to many other superstitious entities such as when Horatio refers to the death of Julius Caesar. He uses an allusion that leads the audience to more uncertainty of what is about to happen adding to an unpredictable storyline.
As mentioned earlier, not every character can see the ghost. In one scene, Hamlet could hear the ghost but Gertrude could not and thought Hamlet was just mad. Gertrude said “If I saw something, I would definitely see that” (Shakespeare 3.4) This leads the audience to question if Hamlet is really mad or if the ghost is real. It is important to remember that in Act 1, scene 5, Hamlet and another officer can interact with the ghost. Therefore, Hamlet is not the only one able to see with it. Horatio said, “Has the ghost appeared again tonight” (Shakespeare 1.1), and “It will not appear” (Shakespeare 1.1). Horatio is educated and rational, which made him hesitant to believe who ever spoke of the ghost. On the other hand, Bernardo and Marcellus believed the ghost was real and tried to prove it. Through the conversion and background between Horatio and officers, the plot creates question to the audience.
The ghost is a symbol that encourages Hamlet to get revenge for his father. The first appearance of the ghost sets the action in motion for the entire plot. Afterwords from the ghost turn out as a caution, Hamlet realizes the truth from the ghost and becomes angry enough to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet really admired his father, which caused his death to strongly affect his emotions and life. Hamlet knew the ghost was the symbol of his father and his murder. This however, is not the only time the ghost is present. Even though hamlet decides to kill Claudius, he did not ready for the murder, so the ghost appears again to tell Hamlet what the real work is.
The role of the ghost in Hamlet is to add a tense setting, question the audience, and ignite the conflict. The ghost’s appearance turns out as one of the most important to the plot and paves the way for the rest of the story.