Using all of his seemingly infinite faculties to compose Hamlet, Shakespeare gives each
significant character in the play all the depth and emotion of a living human being. Because of
this, the characters, as well as the plot, become extremely intricate and difficult to define.
Simply assigning a “label” to each character does not do justice to their complexity because no
one character acts according to any easily discernible guidelines.
By this reasoning, it is difficult to determine for certain whether the ghost of Hamlet’s father is
either a “Spirit of Health” or a “Goblin Damn’d.” In order to do this, it is necessary to look, not
at the ghost’s intentions, but at the effect of its message on Hamlet’s life. If an assessment of
the ghost had to be made, it would probably be considered a “Goblin Damn’d” rather than a
“Spirit of Health,” based on the disastrous effects its words had on the course of Hamlet’s life.
When the Ghost utters the fateful words “Revenge his [the Ghost’s] foul and most unnatural
murder,” Hamlet’s life is forever changed for the worse. Not only does Hamlet’s quest for
revenge divide his family and friends, but it also divides Hamlet himself.
Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.”
In the exchange that follows this line between the Queen and Hamlet, Hamlet’s distaste over
his mother and uncle’s brief period of mourning becomes evident. It also demonstrates some of
Hamlet’s suspicion concerning the circumstances surrounding his father’s death. This
exchange, however, occurs


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