The Ghost in Hamlet is a widely controversial topic with arguments determining whether the Ghost is a “goblin damn’d” or a “spirit of health.” (1.4.40) “‘A spirit of health’ is one, which comes from heaven with charitable intentions, and ‘a goblin damn’d’ is one, which comes from Hell with wicked intentions.” The Ghost only has two appearances in the play and is a symbol for uncertainty, yet it is important as it catalyses the play into action and also Hamlet into madness. The Ghost in Hamlet is an evil spirit returning to revenge his killer Claudius; which is a questionable action for a Catholic person leading the audience to believe that the Ghost is evil. He pressures Hamlet into revenging Claudius while destroying Hamlet’s reputation in the kingdom. The readers can contrast the madness of Ophelia and Hamlet to create the truth behind the Ghost allowing the reader to create their own decisions on the Ghost’s motives in returning to visit his son.
The Ghost first appears in act 1 scene 1 when Horatio and Marcellus and Barnardo are outside the castle swapping the guard. Once Hamlet discovers that perhaps the Ghost is his father. After the encounter and reveal of secrets in act 1 scene 5 Hamlet announces he will become a madman,
“As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,” (1.5.171-172) It is obvious that Hamlet’s behaviour has varied immediately after his encounter with the Ghost when Hamlet decides that is it better if they part their separate ways and Horatio comments that Hamlets words are “wild and whirling.” (1.5.133) Perhaps Horatio was right to be wary of the Ghost. He warned Hamlet that it could be an evil spirit here to lure Hamlet into madness,
“That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? Think of it.” (1.4.71-74) At this point in the play the idea of an evil spirit tempting Hamlet into madness is foreshadowing the meeting with the Ghost. Hamlet’s madness is questioned by many readers. The truth is that Hamlet portrayed madness before he came up with the plan of acting madness. This madness is an important characteristic in the play with Hamlet’s actions revolving primarily around the idea he has because of his madness. There are several occasions further in the play when the audience sees Hamlet acting mad even though there is no one else in the room that he was aware of. In act three, scene four, when Hamlet is in his mother’s chamber and hears a noise behind the arras the rash decision to stab the noise behind the curtain shows exactly how erratic and unstable Hamlet is. His rash behaviour to kill without seeing what he is doing shows that his madness is real and not something he is faking to have revenge for his father. In act five scene two, Hamlet announces that he...