In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the titular character begins plotting his revenge after he encounters the ghost of his father, who informs him of the murder as well as the culprits. However, it is possible to argue that the use of the supernatural was unnecessary, as a friend or a loyal servant could relay the same information with the same result. When one takes Hamlet’s unstable mental state throughout the play into consideration, they may further postulate that the apparition may be a manifestation of his madness that arose from the rumors he had heard earlier. However, I believe that the ghost is a necessary device for the story’s development.
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Hamlet is a spiritual and religious person who believes in the soul and its importance. For example, he refuses to take the opportunity to kill Claudius despite the perfect opportunity provided by the usurper’s prayer later on. As such, while he would have been enraged by the revelation of his father’s murder, the ghost’s restless state, denied rest, drives Hamlet into a cold fury that informs the rest of the plot. The ghost’s appearance ensures that Hamlet disregards his standing, safety, and life, eventually dying to secure his revenge.
With that said, it would be possible for Shakespeare to write the story in such a manner that the ghost does not appear. The supernatural event is a product of the playwright’s interest in various forms of magic and spirits, which also shows itself in many of his other works. It also provides a dramatic effect to the scene, as the unearthly atmosphere created by the ghost’s appearance is more impactful than a reveal by another person would be. As such, the supernatural nature of the character is both essential to the story as written and a conscious decision by Shakespeare.