The Senecan Prologue Ghost
The Senecan Tragedy was
modeled after the Greek tragedy's where ghosts and witches regularly appear, but gods rarely do. Hamlet is
very similar to these plays. By the time Hamlet was written it was a common occurance to
have ghosts appear at the beginning of a play and and have the play end with the ghosts revenge.
Shakespeare made a change to the Senecan Ghost. Instead of it coming up
from the ancient underworld of Tartarus, it came from the christian context which was a spooky English graveyard. This ghost
brought on the idea of evil and threat to others, whereas the underworld ghost was just there with no evil. The ghost of King
Hamlet is designed to be spooky. Both Marcellus and Horatio speak of their terror. They talk of the "unsholsme night", "planets
in rebellion", "whitches, powers and charms", and the "absence of God's grace".
Catholic and Protestant Beliefs
Catholic: The Catholic
people believed in a place called pergutory, which was kind of like a waiting room between heaven and hell where souls
can reside. They believed that ghosts are the wandering souls of those who have recently died.
Protestant: The Protestants believed that the
dead are either sent to Heaven or Hell, nothing in between. When it came to ghosts, it was a split decision. The Conservative
Reformers thought that spirits occupy the bodies of the dead, or spirits create forms to inhabit. The Progressive Reformers
believed that all creation is the domain of God alone, but spirits can create convincing illusions of ghosts in the minds
William Shakespeare & The Supernatural
It is not clear whether Shakespeare himself
believed in the ghosts that played such vital roles in his plays. He did however find them very useful as dramatic devices.