A characters strength and pivotal existence in a play is often determined by his or her reoccurring presence throughout the text and the amount of lines that are allotted to this specific character. In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, however, young Hamlets father returns in ghost form, and, though he is only noted twice in the text, his apparition wields enough strength to create political and royal mayhem. The devolution of King Hamlets power is conveyed by his differing capacities during his two visitations to his son.
The settings of the ghosts visits are key indicators of his impact upon young Hamlet and the state of Denmark. First appearing in Act I, scene 5, the ghost lures his son away from his guards and the common sense of his apprehensive friend, Horatio. Upon hearing of his fathers foul and most unnatural murder Hamlet confusedly retorts, murder? (25). Noting this response as a representation of Hamlets still nave understanding of the world, the ghost mitigates the severity of his ill desired news by progressively drawing Hamlet out of societys hold to a place of mystical phenomena and isolation. However, upon the ghosts second arrival in act 3, scene 4, Hamlet is found caught in the midst of political treason; this time, he is the murderer. The ghost approaches Hamlet and Gertrude directly following the murder of Polonius, which goes against the ghosts original wishes, do not taint thy mind with the pursuit of my revenge (1,5,85). Logistically, the fact that Hamlet is committing crimes, living in secrecy, and physically seeking revenge for his ghost father, portrays the shift of power between the two characters.
The ghosts transfer of qualified information continues in his employment of imagery, ranging from vivid to nonexistent. In his appearance, the ghosts speech is full of intense descriptions and colorful allusions, creating the sense that he is bitter and disgusted with his current situation just beyond the gates of purgatorys sulfurous and tormenting flames, while his brother and wife are living out his future (1,5,3). His anguish is adequately portrayed through his complex allusion to the downfall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: the serpent that did sting thy fathers life now wears the crown (1,5,37-38).