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Word Count: 695
Belief in ghosts and the afterlife was common in Shakespeares time the variance in views and opinions were rooted in religion Catholics believed in the doctrine of purgatory and that ghosts were the spirits of those returning for some special purpose These spirits should be aided if possible so that their soul may find rest The Ghost told Hamlet he is doomed to walk the night till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purgd away 1512-13 The Protestants however denied the doctrine of purgatory and believed that a persons soul went directly to either heaven or hell Ghosts were usually regarded as demons which sought the downfall of their victims and should be resisted Carlson Peel 2003 p 9 Horatio had similar concerns after initial sight of the Ghost this bodes some strange eruption to our state 1172 Another belief was that ghosts could be hallucinations an illusion of melancholic minds or flat knavery on the part of some rogue Wilson 1976 p 63 This theory is quickly refuted in the first Act as it is unlikely that Barnardo Marcellus Horatio and Hamlet had all seen a hallucination There is no mention of purgatory or praying for the dead within the play Although the Ghost of Hamlets father has died without the last rites being observed he never asks for prayers for the repose of his soul Like some hellish demon he appears only at night and vanishes before sunrise demanding only revenge McConnell 2000 p 107-108 Shakespeare left the state of religion in Denmark ambiguous Hamlet accepted the ghost as a spirit and never shows the slightest sign of hesitation in this belief What he doubts is the identity of the Ghost and the nature of the place from which it came Is it truly his fathers spirit or perhaps the devil in disguise The spirit that I have seen may be a devil
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