The Spiritual Dimension of Hamlet Essay

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Is there a religious dimension to the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet? Yes indeed. And many literary critics attest to this. This religious dimension will be the subject of the present essay.

In his Introduction to Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet, Harold Bloom finds the Bible in this drama:

Horatio, then, represents by way of our positive association with him; it is a commonplace, but not less true for that, to say that Hamlet represents by negation. I think this negation is Biblical in origin, which is why it seems so Freudian to us, because Freudian negation is Biblical and not Hegelian, as it were. Hamlet is Biblical rather than Homeric or Sophoclean. Like the Hebrew hero confronting Yahweh, Hamlet needs to be
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But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:

So excellent a king; that was, to this,

Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven

Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!

Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,

As if increase of appetite had grown

By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--

Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!—(1.2)

The first soliloquy ends with the arrival of Horatio, the hero’s closest friend (“Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man / As e'er my conversation coped withal.”), and Marcellus, who escort the prince to the ramparts of Elsinore to view the ghost of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, which they have seen. At one a.m. the ghost, ironically a sinner suffering in the afterlife (West 110), reveals to the protagonist the extent of the evil within Elsinore, “the human truth” (Abrams 467). The Ghost says that King Hamlet was murdered by Claudius, who had a relationship with Gertrude prior to the murder; the ghost requests a “restorative” revenge (Gooch 1) by Hamlet: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” Hamlet swears to carry out vengeance on King Claudius for the murder of his father. John Dover Wilson in What happens in Hamlet tells how the Bard envelopes the ghost in a “contemporary spiritual background” to enhance its credibility in the drama:

Shakespeare’s Ghost is both a
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