"Be Thou a Spirit of Health or Goblin Damned"

[Works cited appear at the bottom of the page.]

Hamlet's ghost defies analysis, a difficulty exacerbated by the fact that some of the important secondary sources do not always examine Renaissance studies of demonology having affiliation to Hamlet. T.A. Spalding's Elizabethan Daemonology (1) fails to consider tragic flaw Lavater's Of ghofts and fpirits walking by nyght (2), Robert West's important study, The Invisible World (3) pays little attention to Hamlet, and F. W. Moorman's article, "Shakespeare's Ghosts" (4) mentions but does not explicate the Appendix to Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft. (5). More recently, however, Eleanor Prosser's Hamlet and Revenge (6) provides an admirable and thorough explication of relevant primary sources, and offers a detailed investigation of the ghost's nature not inconsistent with my own. Stephen Greenblatt's just published Hamlet and Purgatory (7) offers a detailed and comprehensive analysis of Medieval and Renaissance tracts to sustain a purgatorial thesis. This study will support a malevolent ghost, however, even if it fails to damn Hamlet's soul.

The previous Chapter proposed a macrocosmic / microcosmic analogy:

and provided some poetic / dramatic justifications, but the thesis is tentative unless a "goblin damn'd" can be validated by explicating Medieval and Renaissance daemonological texts for clues. This Chapter will consider the following studies:

The ghost scenes in Hamlet should be examined in terms of doctrine as articulated in the above studies, not to determine direct influence per se, but rather to discuss the play in the context of those commentators whose beliefs molded opinion in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. As articulated in his Shakespeare's Philosophical Patterns, W.C. Curry reflects my view on the nature of influence:

Hamlet himself implies as much, saying to Polonius of the players, "...let them be well used, for / they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the times." (II,ii,519-520).

St. Augustine's City of God establishes the following essentials relevant to the current question: (9)

Augustine's theology admits the existence of spiritual intermediaries, but that Christ is the only true one the good man need invoke. Fallen angels, while able to deceive man, do so in the context of Divine Providence that ultimately derives good from evil. Such represents the theological context for the paradox of Shakespearean tragedy. Evil spirits will always lack Christian charity, pervert knowledge, and equivocate.

St. Thomas' Summa Theologica (11) outlines the church's position on the spirit world, As Lavater and other Renaissance writers attempt to refute or sustain his arguments, recognition of Thomistic doctrine is essential to understand the Catholic Renaissance position on supernatural beings:

Question 89 is critical to Hamlet, Aquinas notes that the separated soul is capable of understanding, apart from the body:

Appendices I and II examine Purgatory, denied by Protestants, but nonetheless used by those who argue that the ghost could not be from hell:

Biblically, the justification for Purgatory is II Maccabees, XII: 46. Aquinas believes a place must exist for the purgation of those who die in sin but not meriting damnation as a matter of Divine justice, Purgatorial torment is twofold: depravation of the Beatific Vision and "corporeal fire."

When the ghost, for instance, warns Hamlet that,

he might be speaking of hell or Purgatory, a question this Chapter will investigate.

Aquinas' philosophy fuses Aristotelian metaphysics with Augustine's Platonic orientation. Arguing that God on occasion may permit supernatural visitations, he explains such appearances as mandated by Divine will directing evil to serve good, Demons may actually be the one damned or may 'create' apparitions of a damned soul to torment the imagination. The specific purpose would be to terrify the unrepentant or to test the devout. Souls suffering in Purgatory experience pain not unlike hell but are there pro tem.

In 1572 appeared Lewes Lavater's Of ghoftes and fpirits walking by nyght, translated by "R.H." (16). Its importance to Elizabethan demonology cannot be underestimated. In methodological fashion, Lavater argues for and against demons and souls of the departed appearing to the living and devotes many chapters to the refutation of Purgatory, but his conclusions are objective as their substance accurately reflects Catholic doctrine as well.

In summary Part I dismisses many sightings as hallucinations of a trouble melancholic mind or deliberate hoaxes, but agrees that some are genuine, Part II outlines and refutes the Catholic position, and Part III explains why God allows spirits to appear and offers the faithful behavioral guides if confronted by a spirit.

Before noting those ideas pertinent to Hamlet, a metaphysical / epistemological difficulty must be clarified. Essentially, two points of view governed Elizabethan attitudes toward ghosts and spirits: either they were subjective manifestations generated by imaginative disorders or youthful ignorance, or objective phenomena.
Lavater examines both:


Hamlet's character is not without these qualities if his temperament is accepted as melancholic, a contention this study does not fully accept. Such a view emerges from the romantic Coleridge-Bradley-Olivier tradition. Nonetheless, "blacke" ghosts do prey on those prone to melancholy moods as Hamlet acknowledges in soliloquy.


Shakespeare acknowledges both positions. In Act V, scene iii of Richard III, ghosts appear to Richard and Richmond (Henry VII). Richard's spirits-Prince Edward, Clarence and Hastings-are of those whom he murdered:

Following the appearances, the stage directions note: "The GHOSTS vanish. KING RICHARD starts out of his/dream." Clearly these were subjective manifestations of Richard's tormented conscience, prophesying his defeat at Bosworth Field.

Caesar's ghost and Banquo's may be hallucinations. Moorman argues for that view, but Curry (Shakespeare's Philosophical Patterns), contends that Shakespeare intended Banquo's ghost to be an "infernal illusion, created out of air by demonic order that the murderer be confused and utterly
confounded." (17) Lavater believes that Caesar's ghost is objective, (I,XII,53),

Most critics accept Hamlet's ghost as objective as do I, and the following outlines Lavater's position on objectivity:

A question therefore to be discussed is whether Hamlet's ghost asks for relief from its torment, which of course would sustain a Purgatorial reading.

Ulysses' 'order and degree' speech in Troilus and Cressida analyzes the macrocosmic / microcosmic correspondences of a theocentric universe. Disruptions, always regarded as ominous, find dramatic expression in Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Lavater explains:

Thus, Calpurnia speaks to her husband of the

The Lavater parallel is obvious, and he concludes Part I with another observation essential to Hamlet and the ghost question:

The bedroom scene, Lavater explains by allowing for selective visitations:

In Part II, Lavater emphatically denies Purgatory as the headnote makes clear:

The second part of this
Booke doth shewe, that those
Spirits and other strange sights, be
not the Soules of Men,
but be either good or euill Angels, or else some
secret and hyd operations

The particulars are:

Does Hamlet's ghost meet these tests? If the ghost fails, it is an evil spirit, which of necessity it would have to be for anyone who denies Purgatory. Souls according to Lavater are either damned or saved, with Purgatory being spuriously contrived by priests wishing to exploit financially a gullible public. Greenblatt's Hamlet in Purgatory discusses the Church's financial interest in sustaining belief in Purgatory, (18). For Lavater, however, only heaven and hell exist:

If the ghost deceives Hamlet and is indeed a false prophet, then the irony to which previous Chapters refer is sustained. The conditions under which God allows such activity concerns Part III of Lavater's study:

Concluding his study, Lavater warns that weapons never encumber a spirit; rather only by God's protection may we escape damnation. An Ubi sunt tone pervades the final chapter:

Not everyone in Elizabethan England accepted supernatural phenomena with the same zeal, (20). Reginald Scot, a man learned in law, wrote The Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584, which contained an addendum, "A treatife vpon the natulle and fubftance of fpirits and diuels..." (21). In 1665, a third edition was issued in which the addendum became two books, the second of which, anonymously published, charged that Scot had omitted important considerations. For the present, The Discoverie will be considered:

The references to Scot are briefer since The Discoverie treats witches more than devils, ghosts or spirits. The Appendices, however, are of considerable importance to Hamlet and await subsequent examination.

In 1594 Thomas Nashe published The Terrors of the Night, (22) Although more a literary exercise written by a satirist who enjoys wit for its own sake, the Difcourfe of Apparitions deserves consideration for accurately reflecting the popular metaphysics that a Hamlet playgoer might well have believed:

Of all the Renaissance writers who took demonology seriously, few proved more zealous than James I, Witchcraft was a capital offense: on February 29, 1592, one Agnes Sampson was brought before His Majesty, accused of witchcraft, and sadistically tortured. An entry dated March 16, 1598 in the Stationer's Register records James had written a treatise on Daemonologie, (23) to prove the need to punish witches, a view contrary to Scot's. In his Preface, James refers to Scot's opinion as "damnable." (24).

James' study in three books examines "Magic and Necromancie,' "Socerie and Witchcraft," and "The Defcription of all thefe kindes of Spirites that troubles men or women," The purpose is clearly defined: "...two things...the one, that fuch diuelifh artes haue bene and are. The other, what exact trial and feuere punifhment they merite.

Much of Daemonologie is written microcosmically insofar as James establishes a correlation between the intensity of demoniac influences and the psycho-moral receptivity of the affected subject. Thus, the devil promises:

With these as his premises, James develops a portrait of the impoverished, revengeful subject as one who:

James continues:

The correlation with Hamlet is significant, insofar as the ghost-Hamlet dialogue and the "vicious mole's" operation ae explained from a theological perspective,

Thus departed souls cannot return to earth, but the devil can deceive men as indicated. Of course these beliefs reflect the denial of Purgatory: souls are either damned or saved. James describes the powers of demons. They may:

The Third Booke studies spirits that trouble men. Two kinds may apply to Hamlet:

The Appendix to The Discoverie deserves more attention. A Discourse of Divels and Spirits bristles with the skepticism typical of Scot. He classifies spirits as:

Disputing the Greek contention that the body and soul both die, Scot examines the Catholic position, mandating a distinction between soul and ghost, adding:

Although the tone of these remarks allows for a certain objectivity, Scot's skepticism ultimately prevails:

And, Scot's own belief is substantially more conservative than his contemporaries: the devil exists-one of God's creatures, to

Scot's opinions have great relevance for Hamlet. Initially, emphasis is on the free will of the victim being tempted, rather than the alleged apparition, but the terror he explicates comes not so much from sensationalized accounts as the subtle effect the devil has in corrupting the will. Burton puts it succinctly in The Anatomy of Melancholy:

Much of the irony this study will discuss derives from Scot's opinion, and if the Renaissance is examined from the perspective of man struggling to be free from Medieval theology, as Eissler suggests, (27) then Scot and Burton may be more men of their time than James I. The degree to which Shakespeare may have been so influenced when dramatizing the ghost must be determined.

The 1665 edition of The Discoverie contains an Appendix by an anonymous author, who, charging Scot with touching his subject "...superficially, omitting the more material part..." proposes rectification. (28). Other than a brief reference to its content by Moorman, (29) the analysis does not figure in Hamlet criticism for the obvious reason that it postdates the play by 60 years, and Shakespeare's death by 49 years. Yet if the ideas expressed were current in Shakespeare's lifetime and he were familiar with them, then the contents may have critical bearing to the ghost problem, This hypothesis will be substantiated in Chapter IV; and the necessary excerpts are outlined below:

Chapters III and IV discuss Astral Spirits of men departed. Apparently each man has his own Astral Spirit, and

Appended is an interesting example of one Codrus Laenus, " whom an empty, meager Ghost appeared, at midnight, signifying unto him, how sad...a Tragedy was shortly to attend him..." The specifics are his murder by "..his Treacherous Wife..." who stabbed him in the heart." (501), The Hamlet parallels are intriguing. The author stipulates that although these spirits lack articulation, an exception concerns someone who has been murdered in a particularly gruesome manner:

Dover Wilson has demonstrated in an Appendix that Shakespeare knew Dr. Timothy Bright's Treatise of Melancholie (30) by paralleling lines from the play with passages from the text. (31) Since the Treatise is a medical text, there are fewer references to ghosts being objectively present, but Bright does acknowledge that "melancholy procureth fear, fadnes, difpaire, and such other paffions." (Chapter VXII, p. 101). He classifies perturbations of melancholy as...

Since these perturbations obviously affect Hamlet, the result would be important for our study of the ghost. Bright notes:

Although Bright argues that apparitions may be hallucinations caused by a melancholic humor imbalance, [as Gertrude certainly things during the bedroom "visitation"] he does warn of the need to examine rationally phenomena:

The ghost scenes in Hamlet must be considered in these established contexts. Augustine stipulates that false mediators have knowledge transcending human limitations, but lack charity and Christ's humility. What appears to Hamlet must be judged by what it says and does if any correlation be valid. Horatio's, "It harrows me with fear and wonder," (I,i,47) counters previous skepticism. He is asked as a scholar by Marcellus to address it, but its reaction--"See, it stalks away'"--betrays offense, Either the ghost "stalks" because in vain it seeks Hamlet, or Horatio's, "By heaven, I charge thee speak" occasions fear, "Stalk" is the key, The primary etymology reads "to move cautiously like a fowler in pursuit of his game," (Onions) implying nothing malevolent, but the O.E.D. entry more precisely establishes the context: "often said of ghosts and fig., of quasi-personified maleficent agencies, as pestilence, famine etc," If the O.E.D.'s interpretation is accepted, Augustine's theology applies, Either the entity has found the mention of heaven offensive, or resents being charged by Horatio whose knowledge of Latin it fears.

Yet Shakespeare appears to balance the interpretation by assigning guilt to the interrogators. Marcellus', "We do it wrong, being so majestical / To offer it the show of violence, / ...and our vain blows malicious mockery," cannot be ignored, If true, the ghost may not be lacking in charity but simply the aggrieved party.

The ghost's words must decide. In IV,iv it confers with Hamlet, mandating revenge. The command might be evidence of its damnation , "working strange effects... to draw us from profit of soul," Augustine's belief. Lily Campbell argues that Renaissance revenge was not condoned unless God or His appointed deputy initiated it, Private revenge for personal reasons is always condemned, and she asks of any play:

An example from Richard II demonstrates Shakespeare's familiarity with the concept. John of Gaunt comments on Gloucester's death:

Thus, the ghost must make clear it was slain by a usurping tyrant eager for the throne and that Hamlet's obligation to revenge must exclusively redress that. The play's exposition reveals...

If the ghost's preoccupation concerns the throne, why does he devote the least number of lines to that crime? Rather his concerns suggest details of the murder which is only natural, and his brother's infidelity intensified by Gertrude's involvement. Claudius is a "beast" with powers "to seduce," engendering a "falling off" from one endowed with superior "natural gifts," Therefore Claudius is a "wretch" who turns the celestial marriage bed to "garbage."

The emotional turning point for the ghost, "O horrible! O horrible! most horrible!" (I,v,80), refers, as the syntactical pattern makes clear, to his threefold depravation on earth: "life / crown /queen," and in the afterlife: "Unhous'led/ disappointed, Unanel'd," (l., 77). The evidence supports private revenge, the ghost being agonized by Gertrude's preference for Claudius and for his own unspecified sins, In executing revenge, Claudius of necessity would die, but the ghost's intent is to impress upon Hamlet his personal reasons, Thus it does, with some ambiguity, cast doubt on its intentions, for he simultaneously reinforces his public motives by commanding Hamlet to,

Public and private motives blend, and those favoring a benevolent spirit might further argue that the command to spare Gertrude implies charity and compassion, Nonetheless, some doubt remains. Aquinas believes angels guard individual men as ministering spirits. Thus Hamlet's initial response when confronted, "Angels and ministers of grace defend us," (I,iv,39) suggests the need for Divine guidance. The presence baffles:

and echoing Augustine,

There appear three possibilities: the spirit of King Hamlet saved, the spirit of King Hamlet damned, or a good or evil entity whose identity is unknown. The investigation so far seems to support two or three, but additional evidence is needed.

Were the ghost to propose to Hamlet one single command most carefully designed to torture him, would it not involve Gertrude? We know from Claudius that, "The Queen his mother / Lives almost by his looks... (IV,vii,11-12) and Hamlet's first soliloquy (I,ii,129 ff,), saturated with images of rankness and decay, deplores the "frailty" of his mother, who with "most wicked speed," enjoys "incestuous sheets." That Hamlet and Gertrude deeply love each other must be one of the play's most vital assumptions, but so is the converse. Hamlet obviously dialectically tests it: with equal intensity, Hamlet loathes his mother for her incestuous acts. The bedroom scene consequently concentrates his desire to preserve and destroy simultaneously, Both love and hate exist in Hamlet. At first the ghost's command,

appears motivated by charity, but knowing Hamlet's love for Gertrude, would not the injunction deny him the once change he has for happiness; that of saving her? The sincerity of,

can hardly be doubted, especially when recalling the theme-motif patterns of weeds and the "vicious mole" of the ghost. Further, since apparitions know all things at once, can see into "the seeds of time," we should not forget that the ghost at the time of the initial visitation may be aware potentially of the bedroom scene. Can there be charity in its intentions?

A belief held by Aquinas and Augustine stipulates that wicked spirits serve the natural order by testing the good. This theology directly molded Elizabethan revenge mores to the degree that its pursuit if mandated by God was allowable to restore that order, the chain of being, but a a private revenger without Divine mandate sinned. Fredson Bowers notes:

Eleanor Prosser agrees,

Thus, if the ghost intentionally inflicts the agony, then it is malevolent. When Hamlet departs with the ghost, the play's persona for 'normality,' Horatio observes that, "Heaven will direct it." (I,iv,91). The theological motif is set; whatever occurs must be sanctioned by Providence, but does Providence allow the ghost to command private revenge? The ghost mandates revenge but does not specify the means:

In whatever manner or degree, Hamlet is therefore left with the angst, of deciding; the means. From the context. i.e. the dwelling on incest, private revenge engrosses the ghost, and in killing Polonius whom he mistakes for Claudius, Hamlet commits murder, In this sense, the death is an indirect result of a supernatural command.

Ghostly malevolence seems to be sustained. Giving reign to one's passions violates the Divine mandate that public morality insofar as the king ruled as God's anointed and was, at least in theory, expected to behave accordingly; privately sanctioned revenge is for God alone.

Aquinas' Question 89 asserts that separated souls have greater natural knowledge, with devils knowing more than separated souls. We have demonstrated the degree to which the ghost understands Hamlet's desires, especially concerning Gertrude, but knowledge from beyond the grave is implied:

Arden glosses "harrow" as "lacerates," citing the O.E.D., but that dictionary offers a far more significant reference: "To harry, rob. spoil," used especially in the phrase to harrow hell said of Christ." Cursor Mundi is cited, "Of hell it harus the hard prisun," among other contextually similar references. Both Hamlet and the Cursor Mundi associate hell, harrowing, and prison. By implication, might not the ghost be threatening Hamlet's soul with the prison of hell, but is forbidden by God to proceed so directly? We may recall Job, for instance, when God places clear limitations on what the satan may inflict. More indirectly, surreptitiously and perhaps effectively, it invokes fatherly love and speaks of earthly matters:

The ghost effectively defines Hamlet's agony, The arrogance and irony of the "seduction" is in direct proportion to a shattered male ego, outraged that his former wife preferred another man (microcosmically), and the clandestine assault on Hamlet's soul (macrocosmically) from the supernatural. Does this constitute enough to classify the ghost as a separated soul, or a devil assuming the guise of the deceased king? For Shakespeare to dramatize explicitly would mar the play's ambiguity, so Hamlet pursues the dialectic: "Be thou a spirit of health or Goblin damn'd..." (I,iv,40) Although spirits are sent by God to punish, Aquinas argues they often may have personal motives, chiefly envy. It is rather clear that the ghost both hates Claudius for his seduction and envies him for possessing Gertrude. Hamlet's overture of sympathy, "Alas, poor ghost," is thus quickly repudiated: "Pity me not..." (I,v,5), While the dead appear to return, in actuality they do not, for Aquinas believes a body is shaped from air; thus "a mere semblance of reality." Hamlet echoes with, "Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell..." (I,iv,41). Unfortunately one can not decide conclusively; the ambiguity persists. The Summa notes that although apparitions often reveal the truth, they do so to lead the faithful, " something prejudicial to the salvation of mankind." Clearly Horatio envisions that possibility when warning Hamlet:

The nature of the temptation invites madness and illustrates the irony that pervades the play, The ghost beckons, and ignoring Horatio's plea, Hamlet follows, perhaps to his damnation. Probably the most potent argument for a Purgatorial, and therefore a benevolent spirit, comes when the ghost tells Hamlet:

The passage is difficult. Q1 omits 'certain' and reads 'time' for 'term,' and Q2 and F1 read "certaine tearme." Shakespeare usually denotes 'term' as a fixed amount of time as in II Henry VI:

But Shakespeare elsewhere liberalizes the connotation. In Romeo and Juliet, the protagonist worries about his future with Juliet:

In the Henry passage, term denotes a specific and limited amount of time-eighteen months. The Romeo and Juliet excerpt expands the temporal reference to a lifetime; it is somewhat open-ended. Although these linguistic examples may be necessary conditions for doubting Purgatorial residence, they are hardly sufficient thematically. At best, we may argue that Shakespeare's use of "term" may allow for some latitude.

The most significant evidence for a Purgatorial ghost is the line: "Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature / Are burnt and purg'd away. (I,v,12-13)

It appears to set finite limits on suffering, thereby validating the Catholic belief in Purgatory. That not- withstanding, the ghost s performance appears at odds with Catholic doctrine:

Although Augustine and Aquinas' theologies illuminate our understanding of the ghost, nothing definitive may be concluded. Shakespeare probably did not have The City of God and the Summa Theologica as desk references, but the cited passages demonstrate the play's compatibility with Scholastic tradition retained in the Renaissance. Therefore, a detailed comparative analysis between Hamlet and classic Renaissance daemonological studies may illuminate some controversial passages.

In Of ghofts and fpirites walking by nyght, Lavater believes good spirits appear to console the living. Hamlet's ghost provides the Prince, for the moment, with a heretofore lacking sense of purpose and resolve:

Greenblatt, however, counters, noting that anti-Catholic, Protestant polemics against purgatory find expression in the ghost’s “remember me" injunction, to wit that souls,

Does "remember me" refer to a command not to forget a soul suffering in Purgatory, or not to forget the command to revenge, which in this study means private revenge? The familiar ambiguity again perplexes. Even if Shakespeare intended "Till" to refer to Purgatory, he does so in a context implying eternal damnation. (37).

The irony of his commitment will be treated in due course; for the present Hamlet's resolve helps to mitigate the angst of his first soliloquy. From the glimpse Shakespeare allows of Hamlet's youth prior to the murder, we suspect he deeply loved life's richness and infinite variety of challenges. Now, the ghost's revelations not only confirm previously felt suspicions, but pro tem allow him to focus his considerable mental energies on what appears to be a single purpose: revenge, The degree to which irony colors the resolve depends on how the ghost's ultimate purpose is interpreted. There does, however, appear to be consolation.

Lavater of course rejects Purgatorial doctrine but frequently discusses orthodox Catholicism with objectivity. Thus he asserts spirits frequently identify themselves as departed souls, reporting that "..they nowe endure extreame tormentes..." and request Masses for deliverance. As noted, the ghost does not invoke such aid preferring not to be pitied. When the ghost appears the second time, Horatio asks,

This, the third of three conventional explanations for spirits, finds antecedents in Lavater and the Appendix to Scot. Some of these can be "Cruell and terrible," and in context, "extorted" means to rest or take from. Perhaps Lavater's explanation illuminates the cellarage scene. a bit of comic relief, reminiscent of the stock 'devil' of the miracle plays, occurs, but it must be remembered in this more serious context that under the stage in Medieval times was considered hell itself. (38)

Lavater believes spirits appear with macrocosmic and microcosmic forewarnings, especially physical violence. Horatio's "A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye," (I,i,115), chronicling Julius Caesar's assassination, parallels the "rotten" condition of Denmark, also wracked by murder and assassination. In this context, the appearance of a ghost would undoubtly be taken as a malevolent dramatization of further macrocosmic disorder. The parallel with Horatio's bit of history too close for the intention to be otherwise:

From a macrocosmic perspective, Francisco's heart-sickness parallels th"moist star" being "sick unto doomsday." Something in Denmark is "rotten."

Lavater rejects Purgatorial doctrine as a 'popish" scheme to dupe financially unsophisticated laymen. Yet, his four tests discussed above might be applied to the ghost as a means of ascertaining origin:

1. Spirits may terrify men at first, but "soone reuiue and comforte them." We have discussed this, noting the ghost appears to offer comfort by at least giving Hamlet a sense of purpose, but his subsequent agony in no small measure comes from the spirit's demanding Gertrude be left to heaven. Hamlet perceives his hope for happiness in saving his mother and perhaps marrying Ophelia, and although the so-called revenge command is a necessary condition, only Gertrude can prove sufficiency. Comfort then may be more short term psychological than long term socio-moral.

2. Good spirit are associated with men, doves, lambs and the sun; evil ones with lions, bears, todes, serpents, cattle or black ghosts. Shakespeare's poetics isolate the ghost from the "clere light of the sunne." Its first appearance "usurpt' this time of night..." (I,i,49), and Marcellus recalls previous visitations "at this dread hour." (l.76), which Horatio takes as omniously foreboding, "...some strange eruption to our state." (l.72). First scenes in Shakespearean drama, through the skillful use of images / motifs , always establish a mood that permeates the play. Here, the ghost emerges in darkness, a metaphor for the "vicious mole's" moral decay. Horatio's lines during the second visit make the light/dark contrast more vivid and apparent, "But look, the morn in russet mantle clad / Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill. (I,i,171-172).

Even more pronounced is Marcellus'...

But in Hamlet, spirits do stir, and the night is not wholesome. The ghost by implication is a malevolent intrusion, despite Marcellus that "We do it wrong, being so majestical, / To offer it the show of violence." (I, (I,i,148-149).

The fourth scene of Act I contains the theme passage, its content expressing the macrocosmic / microcosmic agonies that infest Denmark. It prologues Hamlets' discourse with the ghost, whose language represents one of the most scurrilous motifs in the play:

The "vicious mole" imagery suggests the "blacke ghost" of Lavater; indeed Shakespeare offers only limited counterexamples. Horatio calls Hamlet a "goodly king," his son notes he was a "man," Horatio believes his countenance bespoke "sorrow," and the ghost admonishes Hamlet to leave Gertrude to heaven, which may not be charitable. If we take the ghost at its word, Horatio's belief is largely nullified; Hamlet appears not to have been "goodly."

3. Lavater's third test defines an evil spirit as teaching anything that contradicts or subverts Christian doctrine. Sets of confusing paradoxes are concurrently dramatized. Certainly the ghost commands revenge, but as Greenblatt notes, Renaissance playgoers loved the genre and accepted that certain kinds of revenge were permissible:

Certainly Hamlet probes the depths of the imagination of the viewers and characters alike. The mind's caverns are indeed "measureless," evoking the terror that comes from ambiguity--what gives us pause as Hamlet himself observes.

Secondly, the ghost stipulates that the murder left him,

"Imperfections" is the operative word. In Henry V the Duke of Burgundy lists what imperfections he considers indigenous to the political situation:

The passage anticipates Ulysses' 'Order and Degree' speech and Hamlet's own "unweeded garden" soliloquy. An O.E.D. references confirms "imperfect" had originally a much stronger connotation: "positively faulty, vicious, evil." In conjunction with the depravation of the last sacraments, the case for malevolence strengthens. Chronologically, perhaps Hamlet received the Last Rites after his physical death, but in any event the ghost s narrative makes clear they were of no benefit, so the "imperfections" remained on his soul. The depravation might occasion pity, but the ghost eschews it. Lavater's third rule appears violated.

4. Good spirits acknowledge and confess sins, but evil ones groan, weep, complain, boast, threaten, slander and blaspheme. True to his method, Shakespeare is ambiguous. The ghost does acknowledge sin, but he regards his love and natural gifts as superior, He boasts of these and slanders Claudius. Yet, his attitude toward Gertrude, his "most seeming-virtuous queen," may imply pity, or at least a desire to see her remain a victim of her fate. Thus King Hamlet or whatever visits in his guise appears to fail the fourth test, but with mitigating circumstances.

A verdict seems allusive. The ghost appears to pass the first test, but there is evidence suggesting his words regarding Gertrude entrap Hamlet. By his own words, the ghost fails the second test. The "vicious mole" is fully operative, The third test's sociological implications lessen guilt: the ghost demands private revenge, but the mores of Renaissance England regarded such violations on the stage as a legitimate part of their entertainment. Further the lament that death occurred without the sacrament may be considered worthy of pity. The same ambiguity characterizes the fourth test.

Three of Lavater's tests demonstrate circumstantial guilt. To invalidate them as non-definite by relying primarily on the second test makes the apparition a "blacke ghoste" and therefore evil, However, Shakespeare is not so willing to apply theological and legal precepts with certitude.

Because Lavater denies Purgatory, spirits that return are usually damned, Additionally an evil angel may transform himself to an angel of light and appear to men. This belief finds reality in two crucial Hamlet scenes. When discoursing with Hamlet, the ghost asserts that lewdness can court virtue " a shape of heaven..." Later, in Act II, Hamlet doubts the ghost's origins and believes,

Would it be in keeping with the ghost's arrogance to suggest his origin, but in a context so overwhelming to Hamlet's emotions that the Prince might not suspect until his "heat-oppressed brain" finds a moment for a dialectic investigation? We have seen as much when explicating its use of "harrow," and so Shakespeare might well allow the possibility.

Part III of Lavater's analysis outlines reasons why God might allow evil spirits to test a man: to engender humility and patience or to punish unbelievers, It is difficult and perhaps textually unwarranted to hypothesize Hamlet's conduct prior to the murder, but Ophelia's analysis, "O what a noble mind is here o'rthrown," (II,i,l153 ff.) merits attention. When we recall as well Gertrude's near idolatry, Hamlet's dynamic assumes its rightful place. Ophelia's analysis correlates with Lavater. The Prince may indeed face Divine retribution for his actions, His is the impatience of youth coupled with a burning zeal to right the wrongs he feels inflicted. Hamlet's confrontation with this 'destiny' is the play's essential conflict, embodying any thematic statements and their implied irony, including his relationship with the ghost, How malleable such an individual might be, especially under the direction of a malevolent spirit is open to question, but undoubtly the effects on the latent "vicious mole" would be considerable.

Lavater's conclusion gravely admonishes the faithful to shun spirits that flatter or crave help for the danger of moral entrapment looms ever present. Obviously the ghost craves help which Hamlet wants to give, but does it flatter? A good case may be made:

Paraphrased, the ghost argues, 'You are my loving, dedicated and intelligent son; your duty is clear, lest you seem dull-witted." As noted, the ghost does not hesitate to flatter himself, and thus feels this a good tactic (as did Chaucer's Pardoner ) to use on Hamlet. Hamlet accepts the flattery as the young are prone to do and suffers accordingly.

Lavater's study correlates with Hamlet in many significant respects: consolation, Purgatorial doctrine, selective appearances, tests for malevolence, modes of appearance, humility and arrogance, pleas for internment, and flattery. Each has been considered, and Hamlet's ghost frequently appears as a composit of Lavater's comments, thus reflecting Shakespeare's imaginative skill to "...give to airy nothing: / A local habitation and a name," But Shakespeare had no desire to write theology, and the ambivalence regarding the ghost's origin must thus far be considered a necessary element of the play's metaphysics.

Reginald Scot''s Discoverie (1584) offers little clarification except to advance the "psychological receptivity" theory (tragic predisposition) prone to melancholics who think they experience ghosts, Hamlet gives his own credence:

If the conclusion is correct, the context may not be as our study of Burton will confirm. Hamlet is not necessarily melancholic by disposition, especially when recalling Ophelia's analysis. Scot's contribution may be quickly dismissed.

Thomas Nashe's The Terrors of the Night, however, offers more substantial criticism, some of which reflects Scot's. Nashe stipulates that an apparition nay be tyrannical when men are plagued by horrid torments, especially a concealed murder. Is there a correlation with Hamlet? Prior to the visitation, Hamlet agonizes over his mother's hasty marriage and possibly suspects Claudius. Of course the ghost reveals the details, but does it act tyrannically? Complicating the discussion is Renaissance doctrine on royal prerogative which assigned a far less pejorative connotation to tyrants; kings were kings by Divine sanction, and royal abuses were to be endured as signs of God's displeasure, at least in theory. When, for example, Richard II tells Bolingbroke, "We were not born to sue, but to command..." (I,ii,196), playgoers not only accepted, but demanded their kings-both on the stage and in reality behave in such a manner, as the Earl of Essex was to discover. How then can Hamlet's ghost be judged? Of the many didactic considerations, The Mirror for Magistrates best profiled tyrannical behavior in a way the Renaissance mentality might find offensive:

Shakespeare's history plays provide similar examples, such as the melodramatic Richard III:

And everyone recalls Henry IV's rebuking his son for consorting with Falstaff. Thus a king who valued personal aggrandizement above his subjects' welfare acted the tyrant. Significantly, then, Shakespeare has his "hero" King, Henry V, banish Falstaff, who pathetically believes he can continue his former role. (40) Click here for additional details.

The ghost, when king, apparently behaved with consummate political skill and military acumen, if we believe Horatio's account of the Norwegian campaign, but Shakespeare often based his historical dramas less on a king fulfilling his duties properly, than on the 'behind closed doors' machinations that often betrayed weakness and the potential for abuse: thus Henry VI is weak, Richard III an outright, self-confessed villain, and Richard II ineffective. Only Henry V fulfills his subjects' expectations.

Although not specified, the ghost implies a life of debauched carnal pleasure with Gertrude that his subjects might well have found offensive. Thus politically there is little in Hamlet to suggest the deceased king functioned differently from the expected norm, but his personal life left something to be desired. His own words to Hamlet betray a tyranny of excess not inconsistent with the Mirror for Magistrates.

Nashe advises that the devil hates light. Here we are on firmer ground, as there is ample evidence that the ghost finds light abhorrent and repulsive. According to Horatio who is no amateur, the ghost flees "like a guilty thing" when the cock, "that is the trumpet to the mourn" crows. Marcellus speaks of light in association with Christ's birth, and the dichotomy between ghost and Jesus, the light of the world, could not be more apparent. The ghost's words sustain the dialectic; it must pause immediately following its quasi-pornographic denunciation of Claudius' lust making: "But soft, methinks I scent the morning air: / Brief let me be." (I,v,58-59) And again: "The glow-worm shows the matin to be near / And gins to pale his uneffectual fire. / Adieu, adieu, adieu. " (I,v,89-91). The lines offer convincing proof the ghost's abhorring light, For the uneducated especially, the ghost is malevolent, but a playgoer with academic training might be unconvinced, and further evidence must be uncovered.

Devils often appear, writes Nashe, in the likeness of one's parents, relying on love to entrap the unwary. Remembering therefore how the ghost used love to entice Hamlet to revenge, we see the case for malevolence strengthened. Nashe's Terrors contributes some circumstantial insight to the investigation, but only circumstantial. It is to the considerable influence of the Daemonologie that we must turn.

James argues in Book I that excessive passions and curiosity and the desire for revenge render one susceptible to demoniac influence. Excessive intellectual curiosity leading to damnation was a favorite Renaissance theme best reflecting the mores of the age. The Chorus in the Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus warns: "Till, swollen with cunning, of a self-conceit, / His [Faustus] waxen wings did mount above his reach / And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow."

Certainly Hamlet's passions are well-evidenced. The first soliloquy reverberates with passion, and its basis is the intellectual curiosity of the speaker. His "Must I remember?" (I,ii,l43) demands an affirmative response, He cannot forget the murder, Gertrude's actions and his own nervous energy that demands a resolution. May he not then be especially susceptible to malevolent influences just as Macbeth's desire for Duncan's throne enhance his susceptibility and eagerness when confronting the witches?

James believes that devils may foretell future events by confounding the subject with half-truths and lies, lest he discover their intentions too quickly. A critical question for Hamlet of is the ghost's veracity; if it lies, then entrapment becomes compelling evidence for spiritual malignancy. Horatio's conjecture concluding scene i--

correlates with James:

He disputes this contention on the assumption that the only fall in question is from Divine grace, after which they function as God's "hang-men, to execute fuch turnes as he employes them in. And when Auie of them are not occupyed...they muft to their prifon in hel..."

We have noted earlier that Shakespeare may use "harrow" and prison-house in the same context to hint obliquely at the ghost's origin, and that no spirit mlay operate without God's consent. Horatio's reference to the elements suggests the popular belief that all God's creatures exist in a macro- and microcosmically ordered universe, and that he and James believe the ultimate metaphysical reality for spirits was hell. The ghost stipulates:

Aquinas believes that the fires of hell and Purgatory are the same, and so it is entirely possible, given the ghost's preoccupation with private revenge and its desire to entrap Hamlet by warning him to ignore Gertrude, that hell is its ultimate reality. Further, if Hamlet's dramatic method points to dialectical testing, it becomes apparent that the ghost forces Hamlet to choose between its commands. The very nature of that choice precludes synthesis, and since integration, to be the 'ideal' Renaissance man, A Sir Philip Sidney, best characterizes Renaissance anthropomorphic values, then any obfuscation would be viewed as malevolent. Even, therefore, it the ghost does not overtly lie, which in itself is doubtful, its version of the injunctions commanded to Hamlet are sufficiently devastating to his psyche to support malevolence, The terror Ophelia experiences dramatizes the horror. Her suicide foreshadows the Prince's own death.

In Chapter II of the second book, James explicates the threefold process that devils employ to pervert their victims. Significantly, they parallel the ghost's methods in Hamlet. At the first visitation, the devil finds an

The devil's seduction requires initially a degree of predisposition, and Hamlet's "vicious mole" suffices. No one familiar with his despair should question the corresponding macrocosmic interlace: "'How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world!" (I,ii,133-134). Given the interlace pattern of disease imagery, Hamlet's despair seems almost complete. The circumstances for a visitation could not be more precipitous.

James' assertion that visitations occur in the likeness of a man and in isolated areas obviously correlates with Hamlet, and it is worth recalling Lavater' s first test for a spirit's authenticity, that of providing comfort, James insists such comfort ameliorates. Now the ghost knows why Hamlet's heart breaks, He issues his commands, and Hamlet appears comforted. But if the only remaining chance for Hamlet's long-term happiness is Gertrude's salvation on earth, then the comfort is ironic, the depth of which only gradually becomes apparent to Hamlet as his involvement deepens, Hamlet may well have been enticed to what the ghost hoped was his damnation.

James outlines details of a second and third meeting. At the second, the spirit,

Further, the mark may be altered at the spirit's discretion and serves to remind the subject of his bondage. The interim between the ghost's initial visit and the bedroom scene appears to validate James' theory, but not physically. Shakespearean drama is dramatization of consciousness. Thus the spiritual and moral effects of the vicious mole remain one of Hamlet's metaphysical primaries. The mole exists in Hamlet's mind prior to the ghost's visit and is intensified (altered) by the ghost; thus Burton argues at the outset of The Anatomy of Melancholy that all men by nature are prone to that disposition due to original sin. The image / motif patterns previously outlined amply demonstrate this conclusion: indeed it is their dramatic function.

James' "marke" infects Hamlet's consciousness and in dramatizing its agonies, Shakespeare's craftsmanship transcends whatever 'sources' on demonology he may have known in the same way, for example, as Gorboduc pales before Lear, though both have similar plots. Hamlet's lines demonstrate Shakespeare's more than passing familiarity with the sources we have been examining. They mention in effect the devil's power to assume a "pleasing shape," making therefore the "mousetrap" necessary, for, in II,ii,594 ff., Hamlet himslf notes that the spirit may be devil which has the power to assume a "pleasing shape."

In the "To be" soliloquy, the "'marke" virtually becomes James' literal meaning. Initially internalized, "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer...," (III,i,57), the "mark / mole" corruption produces that which is macrocosmically visible: "...the thousand natural shocks / that flesh is heir to," (11.62-63), What prevents Hamlet from suicide, in effect the final renunciation of Baptism by the despairing, is the fear that lies after death and whatever positive sensibilities he has left from Ophelia's assessment.

The list of macrocosmic referents in the soliloquy is impressive:

Each refers to one half of the metaphor: the mark's external manifestation, but particularized by Hamlet to reflect the nightmare of his circumstance. Finally, introspection prevails, but it is, "...sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought..." (1.85). Action may be stayed, but only theoretically, Hamlet does act.

The Prince's reiteration of "honest," used ten times in the play, suggests a motif binding the objective and subjective dimensions of the "marke." Its obscene connotation implies not only the moral corruption of the prostitute, but also attendant physical manifestations:

Both macrocosmically and microcosmically, Ophelia to Hamlet has the "marke" of a condemned woman, and Gertrude, with more cause, is treated the same. The cancer spreads.

As the ghost evaluates Hamlet's actions, however, it perceives a violation of its injunction to leave Gertrude to heaven. It is in this context that the bedroom scene must be explicated. James discusses the need for subsequent visitations. The devil,

Shakespeare synthesizes these appearances in the bedroom scene in which Hamlet's language interlaces with the ghost's:

The correspondence with James is obvious. In context, filled with microcosmic filth and corruption, Hamlet implies James' contention that subsequent visitations are meant as proddings:

The command to revenge is James' horrible promise in two ways, Any revenge implying private motives is morally wrong. Secondly, since the ghost initially directs Hamlet to revenge rather than to maternal evangelism, its command deliberately frustrates the purpose that led to Hamlet's visit in the first place. Apparently the ghost believes Hamlet's love for Gertrude precludes his original commandment. Even if only nominally observed in the Renaissance, Christian love should transcend revenge.

The ghost's, "0 step between her and her fighting soul," has convinced commentators that only a benevolent spirit could pity Gertrude's anguish, imploring Hamlet therefore to cease, Whether this be Shakespeare's intention may perhaps be determined by examining Q1:

Ql's lines find a more compassionate Hamlet, fighting against pity, and a more compassionate ghost. There is a difference between "Comforte thy mother" and "O step between her and her fighting soul." The former at least equates revenge and Gertrude's salvation, while the other implies the dispatching of Gertrude's torment as soon as possible lest the Prince completely forget the command to revenge, But if Q1's authenticity and reliability be questioned, then Shakespeare's intention may be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the spiritual entrapment implied by James I.

A passage in James does, however, conflict with Hamlet's responses, James argues that an evil spirit makes his victims renounce God and Baptism. It is insufficient to hold that Hamlet's melancholy and resolution not to die implies renunciation, However, what dramatizes that renunciation and what is an indirect result of the ghost's command is Polonius' death. Thinking he is Claudius, Hamlet commits private revenge, for which he knows he ...will answer well / The death..." (III,iv,178-179). Hamlet knows he cannot escape God's justice, and it would therefore appear the ghost's actions conform to James' criteria for a malevolent spirit's intent.

James' fondness for lists of demoniac powers pervades the Daemonologie. Chapter V of Book II outlines the effects of witches on their subjects and insofar as demons frequently operated in the universe through them, a correlation with Hamlet may provide additional evidence, James believes they can move men and women to hate each other, suggesting the Hamlet-Ophelia relationship. Her affection for Hamlet is genuine, and he knows it. She tells Polonius:

Her simile provides a connection between their relationship and the demoniac influence. Because Gertrude defiled marriage by wedding Claudius, Hamlet concludes all women share the same taint. For the ghost's command to be fulfilled, Hamlet must sever all previous relationships and concentrate on revenge; yet he cannot. Gertrude and Ophelia mean too much to abandon as the ghost well knows. Hamlet's agony, his "vicious mole," is the choice he is being compelled to make between revenge and wishing to see Gertrude restored and having a normal relationship with Ophelia, conditions not without possibility if the ghost had not interfered.

James suggests witches can cause a humor imbalance: "They can lay the fikneffe of one vpon an other...he knowes well inough what humor domines moft in anie of vs, and as a fpirite hee can fubtillie walken vp the fame..." (I,V,45). There is every reason to suspect the ghost functions in the manner described. Our analysis of King Hamlet's character demonstrated a self-centered arrogance, "O Hamlet, what a falling off was there. / From me, whose love was of that dignity..." (I,v,47), perhaps sufficiently repulsive to Gertrude to cause her affections to be swayed by the glib and polished Claudius. In any case, when the ghost reflects on his wife's conduct, its language becomes obscene. With the language as a textual given, the reader would be hard pressed to conclude other than that King Hamlet led a life less virtuous than his son supposed. Hamlet of course uses similar language to and about Ophelia, a powerful interlace, Contagion, "the vicious mole," passes from ghost to Hamlet. A related theme dominating these moments is madness. If Hamlet is mad at any time, it is when he struggles with an antidote that may cure his diseased wit-love, but as the angst almost transcends his curative efforts, Hamlet's actions dramatize that, "Frailty, thy name is woman."

James believes witches "...can be-witch and take the life of men or women, by rofting of the Pictures," (II,V,45). Although such does not directly occur in Hamlet, it is interesting to observe that 'picture' imagery functions significantly in the bedroom scene. Hamlet demands Gertrude contrast pictures of Claudius and his father in language recalling the ghost's:

King Hamlet's portrait:

Now Claudius' portrait:

It is revealing that Hamlet's estimate of his father requires a sustained reiteration of superlatives, whereas his denunciation of Claudius takes only a few lines. Perhaps Hamlet must convince himself that his opinion of the dead king warrants the same conviction, for it is characterize of him to verbalize when he lacks assurance. Nonetheless his summation, occurring immediately before the ghost enters, directly invokes demoniac imagery:

Fire and hell imagery, so integral to the ghost's presence, seems to summon the spirit and the irony of a microcosmic and macrocosmic exemplar is appalling, In effect the pictures serve as a dramatic and moral focal point in the scene. Claudius dramatizes the ghost's command for revenge and Hamlet's revulsion at the marriage. The hatred is directed at Gertrude whom he wishes to save, hoping to rescue her from her own diseased will.

"Pictures" also function metaphorically. Beginning with the ghost's initial dialogue, the image patterns of decay and moral corruption form a motif central to sustaining malevolence. Each image is a verbal "picture" finding its consummation in the pictures shown to Gertrude. King Hamlet's dramatized all past events, and it appears to represent righteousness, at least in Hamlet's mind. Claudius', however, is reality for Hamlet, the reality of stagnation, foulness and corruption that makes Denmark a prison and occasions his bad dreams. The wider, spiritually malevolent implications may escape him.

James continues, arguing they can cause macrocosmic disturbances within Divinely sanctioned limits. (II,v,46), That Shakespeare understood this belief is apparent in Macbeth.. Working at the devil's command, the witches serve to dramatize the intense evil embraced by the protagonist and his wife when they conspire to kill Duncan. In Hamlet, though, Shakespeare dramatized with a subtly that intensifies the horror. The opening scene at midnight is bitter cold, and Francisco is sick at heart, In I,iv, when the ghost appears again, Hamlet notes that, "The air bites shrewdly, it is very cold," (I,iv,i). The macrocosmic storms are conspicuous by their absence-this is not King Lear, but they nonetheless appear in the hearts and minds of the characters, Dramatization is narrated by the flashback to Caesar's death, and Horatio warning Hamlet not to follow the ghost, lest his reason be compromised. Horatio argues conventional Renaissance doctrine that within limits set by God, spirits were permitted to alter matter, the so-called "seeds of time" in Macbeth. Although the kind of storms in Lear or Julius Caesar are absent in Hamlet, the horror is rooted in the correspondence of macrocosmic and microcosm within the castle. Just as the drunken porter in Macbeth envisioned his gates to open hell, so Francisco's heart-sickness invites us to the hell of Hamlet's world, a condition so without referent that the ghost cannot describe it. In fact Shakespeare uses 'confinement' imagery as a motif to dramatize Hamlet's infected consciousness in language implying the correspondence:


and prior to the bedroom scene:

Finally, Hamlet's noble heart cracks. A Renaissance playgoer would endorse the correspondence. Hell's contagion in the form of the ghost pollutes the microcosm, nurturing the "vicious mole" and demonstrates that evil objectively exists in the universe, waiting to be unleashed by man's actions, or allowed by God as a test of faith.

Another reference from the Daemonologie touches on one of Hamlet's most controversial themes: madness. James writes that spirits can, "...make folkes to becom phrenticque or Maniacque, which likewife is very poffible to their mafter to do..." (I,V,47). The question poses significant complications and if an answer is to be found the classic Renaissance study of 'psychology,' or 'psycho-theology' must be examined: Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. Decidedly antidotal, its profusion of sections and subsections offers a fascinating glimpse of the seventeenth Century mind.... Despite its theocentric perspective, The Anatomy offers much to the contemporary reader as well as those interested in its Shakespearean applications. (41)

Burton places man, "...the most excellent and noble creature of the world..." in a theocentric universe and blames his woes -in the words of Chaucer's Monk-on Adam's fall from "heigh degree," whereapon his excellence substantially changed:

This theological definition of madness echoes the theme passage, and Hamlet's view of man:

Burton though outlines a medical definition of madness that refines the theological one:

The confrontation between Hamlet and Ophelia and Gertrude fits this definition, but whether it proves madness remains open, since Hamlet vows to "...put an antic disposition On..." Is the madness actual?

When Hamlet refers to his "wit" as diseased, he refers to its relationship to understanding, that aspect of the rational soul which is man's apprehending power, Understanding examines fantasy, common sense, and memory, thereby providing wisdom needed by the will to make ethical decisions. Because of Adam's sin, however, the will's harmony with reason falters, and passion reigns unchecked, ravaging the microcosm and, as Ulysses' "universal wolf," the macrocosm alike. Wit, actively involved as a regulator, is defined by Burton as,

Continuing, Burton sees wit as a doctor or teacher who instructs those habits and actions committed to his charge. The passage explains a metaphor in Hamlet that some directors have found perplexing when staging the play. Hamlet dedicates himself to revenge and vows:

Hamlet's wit must teach his understanding the means necessary to execute the ghost's dread command, and an educational metaphor becomes an apt means to express the idea. The degree to which the wit is diseased is the measure of cognitive unfulfillment: execution becomes mitigated, and melancholy affects the Prince's thinking.

Burton's definition validates my contention that Hamlet is not melancholic by nature, or, for example, Ophelia could never have summed his accomplishments as she does. The retrograde dimension of Hamlet's weltanschauung correlates with Burton's explanation of melancholy:

To this must be added that Burton believes transitory melancholy affects all men. As a result of Adam's sin, men

That Shakespeare dramatizes Burton's analysis is evident when recalling Iago's counsels to Roderigo:

Garden imagery, of course, is an important motif in Hamlet as well, Here, the will, unencumbered by passion, is free to reach proper decisions, but "carnal stings" and "lusts" corrupt the process which, if occurring too frequently, become habits, engendering melancholy. Ophelia's assessment of Hamlet, his "...most sovereign reason / Like sweet bells jangled...," supports both the need for reason's primacy and the consequences of its abdication; the play's irony involves the ghost's role in the process.

Hamlet's madness reflects Burton's view of aggravated, transitory melancholy, hardened by habit and intense reflection mandated by the ghost's commands. Not melancholic by nature but having the impatience and idealism of youth wedded to a formidable intelligence, Hamlet wants the world made anew at once, If melancholy lacks a specific cause, Hamlet's does not; he knows what he wants, and the passions involved are love and jealousy. What Shakespeare appears to dramatize is not true melancholy but a profound intensification of transitory melancholy occasioned by his father's death, mother's marriage, and especially the ghost's commands. Of course the ghosts wishes Hamlet's condition made permanent. Burton acknowledges the connection:

The Hamlet / Claudius relationship, with its implications for Gertrude and Ophelia, could not be better defined. Further, the passage is a prose explication of Hamlet’s theme passage: Hamlet's wit so corrupts understanding that the "vicious mole" grows unchecked, harming the will's ability to make proper decisions. As Adam's son, Hamlet inherits melancholy, but the ghost cause it to grow, creating a humor imbalance. And most significantly in terms of that spirit, the devil is instrumental in the process.

We noted Hamlet's revulsion for sexual situations, and the matter has no small relationship to the madness question. Burton's Third Partition, treating love melancholy and jealousy, examines the particulars. Of the many definitions of love he includes, Burton views the passion as an intense desire for some good, be it "...a good servant, a good horse, a good son, a good friend, a good neighbor, a good wife." (Vol, II, Part III Sec.1, Mem. 1. subs 2, 431). Generally, love directed toward God and man, if not abused, offers the charitable man happiness here and in heaven, but abuse causes melancholy.

Hamlet dramatizes love's abuse, affecting appetite's relation to reason. Such abuse apparently began prior to Hamlet's father's murder when his faith in parental loved waned. As Hamlet reminds Gertrude in the bedroom scene:

Burton strongly suggests such treachery:

When the "descent" of parental love terminates as Hamlet believes it does, horrid evil results, and Burton's list reads like a summary of Hamlet's plot:

Burton adds that under such conditions, one cannot triumph over the devil, but ironically he may be the one "cozen'd." Hamlet's "lust" must be satisfied. As manifestations of a humiliated and wracked ego, it seeks revenge on those deemed responsible and predicts the impossibility of his own successful union with Ophelia. We know Hamlet predicates his future on Gertrude's salvation; wlthout it not much else matters including the ghost's command. Enslaved by his own passion and strength of moral purpose, he ruthlessly crushes anyone who would deny his mission. Such is the youthful spirit that demands a dialectical resolution, but is the process controlled by supernatural forces he was warned by Horatio to avoid?

Undoubtly Hamlet would have accepted Burton's definition of a good wife Paraphrasing Plutarch, he notes she,

I said accepted insofar as Gertrude's relationship to King Hamlet was defined by the Prince in precisely that manner, but ironically in a manner feminist criticism seeks to deconstruct, Not doing so precipitates the very moral crisis in her Hamlet seeks to rectify in that she is denied the self-expression needed for moral rectitude. He thus tells his mother:


With the murder of King Hamlet and Gertrude's incest, however, the microcosm riots, and Ophelia is Hamlet's victim. Burton explains; his "it" is love:

Two interpretations are possible. Nominalistically, Hamlet experiences "herocical melancholy:" he is not married, but realistically jealousy better describes his feelings for as an idealist, he wants to be married, and the dialectic generated by a self-imposed denial focuses on Ophelia:

And Hamlet will be made a fool of no longer, but the paradox is cruel. If he believes he can never attain that which he lost, a loving home, then his words are clear: to marry is folly, but as embittered idealism taints his mood; he longs for the very union he professes to loathe. Thus:

Beauty ironically corrupts and is more potent than honesty's redemptive efforts. Hamlet's deseased wit unravels the paradox, but without sufficient potency to nullify the pathos of the last line. He did love her once and still does, for to admit the possibility, and he must remember it did / does exist-further tortures his already agonized soul. Cannot the following, from Burton's lengthy list of love's symptoms, apply to Hamlet's love for Gertrude and Ophelia:

Were the correlation untrue, Shakespeare would not have written the bedroom scene, the clashes with Ophelia, her assessment of his moral and intellectual worth, and especially the ghost's injunction to leave Gertrude to heaven.

Madness need not always be feigned; it grows nurtured by memory and sustained by a future devoid of hope. Enough has been said to warrant that Hamlet misses the irony of his "antic disposition," perhaps because he is too close to the situation. Burton acknowledges the consequences:

The correspondence to Hamlet fascinates. Hamlet openly insults Claudius and Gertrude, berates Ophelia, attaches himself unnaturally to Gertrude, murders Polonius, uses obscene language, and sees man as little more than a beast. He festers in a world largely not of his own making, and perhaps one definition of his madness is the growing realization of his own impotence to right it, especially after the murder of Polonius: the ghost works wonderfully well.

Hamlet is not without jealousy, defined by Burton as suspicion that the beloved be "enamoured of another" occasioning., "...a fear or doubt, lest any foreigner should participate or share with him in his love." Characterized is the Hamlet-Gertrude-Claudius relationship. Without implying a Freudian interpretation, the latter's intrusion in Hamlet's family unit is profoundly revolting. Hamlet tells Gertrude:

Certainly Claudius is foreign to everything his 'son' believes sacred, and further the horror explains Hamlet's feelings for Ophelia:


Burton's conclusion is Hamlet's:


...and from Hamlet:

The result argues Burton is madness and jealousy due to love melancholy, and the victim's conduct outlined in The Anatomy virtually parallels Hamlet's:


and from Hamlet:

Ophelia's simile contains more truth than the times allowed her to express, but we must substantiate by verifying the extent to which the ghost aggravates Hamlet's wit, alleged madness, jealousy and love melancholy.

As noted, James believes in the possibility of demons causing madness, and Burton considers the question by asking if spirits and devils have the power to cause melancholy. He disclaims devils as only being the souls of men departed, and he argues for an objective, independent existence, often though not exclusively, of demons being seen by melancholics. Further even the "most illiterate devil" transcends human potential, and

As does Augustine and Lavater, Burton agrees that although formidable, devils cannot contravene Divine will and many only operate below the moon with God's permission, and with clearly defined limitations. Nonetheless their tactical expertise formidably challenges as expressed by burton in a manner not unlike Hamlet's ghost. The devil

The explication thus far has demonstrated a correlation between Burton's judgment and the ghost which appears to "cure" Hamlet, but instead plunges him into a nightmare which he must examine dialectically insofar as the ghost forbids aid to Gertrude. Horatio's metaphor comparing Caesar's Rome to Denmark foreshadows ghostly malevolence. Very significantly, he is interrupted by the ghost which would not want those comparisons to continue.

Burton also implies the microcosmic-macrocosmic correspondence insofar as devils and spirits influence many human activities including rewards and punishments, and losses and preferments. Each of course correlates with Hamlet. The Prince wonders for example if he ever will be king (preferment), suffers the murder of his father (loss), endures gertrude's marriage (wedding), kills Polonius (death), enjoys the friendship of Horatio (reward), and now serves as God's minister and scourge (reward / punishment).

Yet does God allows the devil to cause madness. Burton affirms the possibility:

Thus Hamlet's,

implies an appalling irony, especially when recalling Horatio's words to the ghost: "Stay, illusion." (I,i,130). Is it?

According to Burton, those driven to madness by the devil are inclined to melancholy, and we have demonstrated that Hamlet probably suffers from an intensification of its most acute form: love melancholy (passionate jealously). Insofar as Hamlet's consciousness exhibits this humor imbalance, then a case for demoniac influence exists. The "vicious mole" dramatizes such corruption in terms of Burton's third reason in that Hamlet (since his mother's marriage) is prone to see the macrocosm polluted. If not, then why does he respond to the ghost's revelations with, "O my prophetic soul! My uncle!" (I,v,40) Further, Hamlet's relationship to Gertrude certainly involves envy, lust and anger, and these passions--intensified by the ghost-occasion Ophelia's treatment and Polonius' death, We know his attitude toward sex,.

Spirits corrupt the fantasy, destroying reason, In the theme passage, Hamlet notes the "...o'rgrowth of some complextion / Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason..." (I,v,27-28), and Horatio directly implies the connection to Hamlet:

The devil uses fantasy as his instrument to cause a humor ("complexion") imbalance, Fantasy says Burton,

There is much to consider. Hamlet's gradual corruption by (love) melancholy makes him ripe for fantasy's aberrations. His father's death and mother's marriage are memory's content, "stirred up by some terrible object," the ghost and its command, and his response dramatizes the effect and future intent: "I'l1 wipe away all trivial fond records..." (I,v,99)

Purged of all thoughts, his mind--i.e, understanding considered by Burton as passive is ripe for fantasy's work. How that occurs, Shakespeare explains in A Midsummer's Night Dream:

Hamlet does precisely this. As poet, he appears not without qualifications, both advising the players or stagecraft, rewriting part of their performance-highly significant in the present context, and sending love letters to Ophelia. His fantasy "bodies forth" ideas not yet known in the world of sensory experience: the dialogue and letter's content, and "gives to airy nothing / A local habitation and a name," the palace stage for the mousetrap and the letters Ophelia receives. And elsewhere Shakespeare dramatizes Hamlet's disposition for imaginative activity and fearful dreams, the content of which finds reality in Ophelia's persecution, Gertrude's conversion, and the mousetrap,

Following Hamlet's request to the players that he alter the dialogue, he reflects in soliloquy:

Hamlet is not a coward, but a victim of love melancholy, intensified by a corrupted fantasy; thus "John-a-dreams." The soliloquy confirms this in two ways. First, the fact that Hamlet cannot find a 'rational' answer to his paralysis of will indicates the degree to which the ghost has allowed fantasy to sully reason, and secondly his conclusion, lacks certitude. If it did not, the dialectic would not be necessary:

More than virtually anywhere else, these lines absolutely confirm Burton's thesis. Hamlet is 'mad' to the degree he specifies in his own soliloquy, but ironically his reason reduces the cause to a supposition: ",...may be a devil," hence the need for testing.

The validity of the Burton / Hamlet evidence may be enhanced by examining attitudes of those who evaluate Hamlet and certain language clues. Virtually every character has something to say about Hamlet. Although Gertrude has reason to suspect a complexion imbalance, both she and Claudius think they understand the cause. Claudius fears Hamlet's retribution and the love of Hamlet's subjects, and Gertrude cannot abide close scrutiny. Interestingly two who appear somewhat less competent to judge, Polonius and Guildenstern, come near the mark, Polonius suspects "method" to Hamlet's madness, and Guildenstern speaks of "crafty madness." Yet, it is Horatio's beliefs that count because of his intimate knowledge of Hamlet, and thus he may be better able to discern the difference between "crafty madness" and madness' substance. He warns for instance that Hamlet might be driven mad by the ghost and upon the advice being ignored, states. "He waxes desperate with imagination. (I,v,87) As 'objective' observer, Hamlet's closest friend echoes Burton's analysis. Elsewhere too, Shakespeare uses "imagination" in a similar although humorous, context. In
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Page converses with the suspicious Ford who thinks Falstaff is in his home. Page warns: "What spirit, what devil suggests / this imagination? (III,iii,230-231)

The context reflects the far more tragic correspondence in Hamlet, and it does demonstrate Shakespeare's familiarity with Burton's theories, Likewise, in II Henry IV, Lord Bardolph's reflections on Hotspur's prowess at Shrewsbury unite madmen with imaginative excess: "And so, with great imagination / Proper to madmen, [Hotspur] led his powers to death..." (I,iii,31-32). It would be interesting to compare Hamlet before the tragedies to Hotspur as Bloom does with Falstaff: both men share a zest for life born of youthful idealism, but in any event, Shakespeare again associates imaginative excess with a madman's activity.

Several Hamlet correlations emerge from Dr. Bright's conclusion that melancholic souls suffer purturbat-
ions of the mind that would render susceptibility to evil spirits acute:

Bright's thesis offers a more clinical perspective that the more theocentric sources examined in this Chapter did not necessarily provide, and therefore is a transition work anticipating what modern psychiatry would eventually conclude--that one's mental stability had more to do with an improper diet and little to do with visits from beyond the grave unless the subject believed in the latter. Shakespeare of course allows for both possibilities. If one is not paranoid when really being chased by villains, then if one believes evil spirits influence behavior, then for that person they do. We have noted in this study that contemporary observers like Scot and modern commentators like Greg have taken similar positions.

Such is the dialectical process we have been investigation and which Hamlet must apply to determine if spiritual malignancy applies. Hamlet describes additional perturbations occurring when a diseased fantasy interlaces with love melancholy and / or madness, When Hamlet tells Ophelia,

he associates the imagination's creative urges with the disease and corruption motif of the theme passage, What might have been the kind of purposeful creative energy implied by Ophelia has become the converse: "things rank and gross in nature," or macrocosmic / microcosmic turmoil have taken their bitter toll,

Earlier was cited Shakespeare's synopsis of the creative process from MND. The lines introducing that passage apply to Ophelia's evaluation of Hamlet's sanity:

Anyone familiar with the magnificence of Act III, scene ii of Lear, the storm scene, recognizes the correspondence with Theseus' beliefs. In Hamlet, the "shaping fantasies" embrace the grotesque:

Polonius provides a glimpse of Hamlet as lover and poet as he reads Hamlet's letter:

The paralysis of Hamlet's imagination is in evidence, here caused by the beginnings of love melancholy, with its resulting madness. Two lines require comment. "Doubt truth to be a liar" personifies the paradox of Hamlet's ambivalent love / hate relationship, an equivocation he cannot endure, for even he lacks the "art to reckon" his groans. Groans suggests mental anguish and sexual unfulfillment, interlacing therefore with the theme passage, "fishmonger" scene, and the more 'cerebral' moments including the "To be" soliloquy. The mole's poison grows according to a process first suggested by Friar Laurence in his play's theme passage:

Hamlet's "flower" of love, corrupted by the "rude will's" infection will fall prey to "canker death," The initial lines cited foreshadow how Shakespeare will write the great tragedies, and in Hamlet neatly summarizes the ghost's tactics (1.ii) and their results for Hamlet (1. iii).

All of this starkly contrasts with Hamlet's essential nature. As student, lover, athlete, poet and heir to the throne, his prospects could not have been more promising. Even Claudius acknowledges how the people love him, and given the King's understandable revulsion at the mere thought of it, the Prince before the murder and ghost must have been a prototype Renaissance man. But his wit is diseased. Circumstances have changed and apprehended joys have given way to "...the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to." Henceforth this Renaissance man must also think of his nature as dust. He is negatively Romantic, still capable of imagining, but the poet is now mad, That is why he tells Horatio,

Hamlet, perhaps more than any other Shakespearean tragedy, is a play of what might have been. Of course death dominates the final moments of the play, In the graveyard scene, an appropriate enough metaphor, Hamlet refers to his imagination:

Now Hamlet recalls a childhood when he admired a friend for his uncorrupted imagination, and when his flourished. But Yorick has become a macabre personification of a diseased and corrupted imagination. He must remember past joys with a fancy that abhors its own degeneration, Epistemologically, Yorick dramatizes Hamlet's earlier words to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:...there is nothing / either good or bad but thinking makes it so." (II,ii,249-250). We know what determines Hamlet's thinking, and by demonstrating the correlation between the motifs of imagination and the theme passage's disease imagery , we have found the criteria by which Hamlet's insanity may be measured. That same imagery strongly implicates the ghost.

In Chapter VI, Book II, King James writes of the imaginative predispositions necessary before the devil will appear:

Before the ghost appears, the depth of Hamlet's torment is self-evident, and this study has implied the apparition knows exactly how to intensify it to actual madness. Its relevant lines are:

Hamlet of course cannot stand Gertrude's suffering anywhere: earth, heaven, or " her bosom," and because the ghost knows it, he orders restraint, something Hamlet finds impossible, Dialectically, the ghost's orders conflict, and Hamlet's inability to reconcile them to his satisfaction causes madness; thus for him the time is out of joint, but likewise we cannot forget Bloom's hypothesis that Hamlet's intellect is so prodigious that his madness may come from the very inability to deal with individuals so much his inferior intellectually and morally.

Q1 reads "heart" for "soul" and is the better sense, Hamlet must "contrive" against his mother (force her to reason dialectically; to treat her principles as assumptions). Thus 'heart" more aptly dramatizes Hamlet's love melancholy, here occasioned by Gertrude's incestuous sundering of his home. As with most youths, Hamlet wants his heaven on earth immediately; small wonder then that Keats found Shakespeare so inspirational.

Taking the above interpretation, the ghost's admonition may be paraphrased: " I know you have the strongest feelings of love for your mother, but you will have to let heaven deal with her; revenge my murder. everything must wait." Using the heart metaphor I prefer, Hamlet immediately agrees:

But Hamlet's heart will not hold. As he reflects on the ghostly command, the enormity of what he must not do shadows what he must. In James' words the despair is augmented because liaison with Gertrude is forbidden, and Hamlet is jealous and mad.

James' "Thirde Booke" of Daenonologie concludes the dialogue with a description of what can trouble men or woman, Of significance is the contention that the devil can appear, " the fhaddow of a perfon newlie dead, or to die, to his friendes," to,

These spirits James classifies as Wraithes, capable of deceiving ignorant and unlearned Christians. Apparently, either the faithful or unfaithful dead may be used for such purposes since the soul's departure precludes any consequent harm to it. This ambiguity parallels the spiritual activity in Hamlet. There are thus two possibilities, depending on Hamlet's soul at the moment he died. The context, though, suggests a deception sanctioned by God, meant to plague the guilty or to test the zeal of the faithful. As there is no textual justification to assume Hamlet is guilty of anything damnable prior to the play's opening, we must believe the visitation's purpose is to test the Prince's willingness to forsake revenge and concentrate on saving his mother from her incestuous liaison with Claudius. If such be the case and with the ghost advising the converse, then the death of Polonius may be cited as a partial failure, a fact the scourge and minister line tends to support. The ultimate nature of the failure will be examined later, but the Appendix to Scot's Discoverie is next.




(1)T.A. Spalding. Elizabethan Daemonologie. London: Chatto and Windus, 1880.

(2) Lavater. Of ghofts and fpirits walking by nyght. Translated by R.H. London: Henry Benneyman for Richard 1572. The Shakespeare Association reprint by Oxford University Press, 1929, contains the important article by J, Dover Wilson and Mary Yardley, "The Ghost Scenes in Hamlet in Light of Elizabethan Daemonology"

(3) R. West. The Invisible World. Athens: University of St. Georgia Press, 1939.

(4) F. W. Moorman, "Shakespeare's Ghosts," MLR I (1906), pp. 192-207

(5) Reginald Scot. The Discoverie of Witchcraft. New York: Dover, 1972. This edition does not contain the Appendix, "A Discourse of Devils and Spirits" by Scot or the anonymous author's commentary on it. These may be found in the 1973 reprint edited by Brinsley Nicholson, M.D., published in England by EP Publishing, Limited.

(6) Eleanor Prosser. Hamlet and Revenge. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971.

(7) Stephen Greenblatt. Hamlet and Purgatory. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

(8) W.C. Curry. Shakespeare's Philosophical Patterns, (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1968), p. ix

(9) Saint Augustine. The City of God. I New York: Everyman's Library, 1973, p. 241. To avoid burdening the reader with excessive footnoting, only the initial citation for each author will provide full bibliographical data. Subsequent references will follow in parentheses. Throughout this chapter, the absence of quotation marks indicates my paraphrase of the source. Direct quotations are offset with quotation marks.

(10) See Iago's stipulation: 'When devils will the blackest sins put on / They do suggest at first with heavenly shows..." (II,i,357-358). A comparison of Augustine with Shakespeare exemplifies how influence operates in this Chapter.

(11) St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica ( I ) New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947. Citations refer to Parts, Questions and Articles. The edition is in three volumes translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province.

(12) Shakespeare dramatizes this in Macbeth. After the third witch prophesies, Banquo exclaims, "Good Sir, why do you start..." (I,iii,51). Since the witches can read the "seeds of time," to them Macbeth's starting would be perfectly logical. They "know" he wishes the crown and will achieve it. Angels, according to Aquinas, "know all things at once." (Pt. 1 Q. 58 Art. 2)

(13) Aquinas does not imply demons negate free will; their effect on the will theologically corresponds to the 'vicious mole's' influence. Their corruption of the imagination in the Renaissance implied madness. See MND, "One sees more devils than vast hell can hold. / That is the madman." (V,i,9-10).

(14) Lady Macbeth's soliloquy "Come you spirits..." (I,v,40) dramatizes the relationship between demons and the souls they wish to possess. She asks for possession, a profoundly blasphemous demand, dramatized by Shakespeare's inversion of her motif: 'milk' imagery. Milk becomes the bitter gal of the crucifixion, and the child thus nurtured would die. Thus, in Act V, her being called a "fiend-like" Queen is apt.

(15) The implications for the ghost's appearance are significant; for example, in I,v,9 ff.

(16) Lavater. Of ghofts and fpirits walking by nyght. London: Oxford University Press Reprint, 1929, p. 8.

(17) Curry, pp. 85-86.

(18) Greenblatt. See especially Chapter 1 and 2, pp. 47., e.g.: "There were some, not surprisingly, who thought it unjust that the wealthy could purchase spiritual benefits denied to the poor." (p.26), and "It [Purgatory] is the invention of the terrorized imagination." (p. 48). This is a strong argument for Purgatory. If hell were eternal and God's judgement final, then what could be done for a soul? However, if the punishment were temporary (the ghost's "term"), then what financial contribution would be too much to end the suffering?

(19) See Macbeth: "What, can the devil speak true?" (I,ii,107)

(20) See Montague Summers' Introduction to The Discoverie of Witchcraft. Dover edition, pp. xvii-xxxii.

(21) Scot. The Discoverie of Witchcraft. Montague Summers (ed.). New York: Dover, 1972, p. 31.

(22) Thomas Nashe. The Terrors of the Night, Or A Difcourfe of Apparitions. The Works of Thomas Nashe. Ronald B. McKerrow and F.P. WIlson, (eds.). Volume I. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958, p.347.

(23) James I. Daemonologie. New York and Amsterdam: Da Capo Press and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Ltd., 1969. Preface, p. 2.

(24) James, p. 3.

(25) Scot. A Discourse of Divels and Spirits. Brinsley Nicholson, M.D. (ed.). London: EP Publishing, p. 413. T.A. Spalding's Elizabethan Daemonologie offers the following classification of spirits: "(1) Devils of the fire, who wander in the region near the moon, (2) Devils of the air, who hover round the earth. (3) Devils of the earth; to whom the fairies are allied, (4) Devils of the water. (5) Submundane devils. (6) Lucifugi." See: pp. 35-36. The classifications are quite logical given Renaissance theories of the four elements.

(26) Burton. Part I, sec. 1. Mem. 1, subs 1., p. 179.

(27) K.R. Eissler. Discourse on Hamlet and Hamlet. New York: International Universities Press, 1971, pp.242-243.

(28) A Difcouse Concerning Devils and Spirits. Appendix II, p. 492.

(29) Moorman states, " the 1665 edition of Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft there was added an appendix entitled, 'A Discourse concering Devils and Spirits' dealing at some length with the question of the nature of 'astral spirits.'", pp. 197-198.

(30) J. Dover Wilson. What Happens in Hamlet. New York; Cambridge University Press, reprinted 1976. Appendix E, page 309 ff.

(31) T. Bright. A Treatise of Melancholie (edited by Harden Craig) London: Thomas Vautrollier, 1586. Reprinted Stanford University Press, 1939.

(32) Lily Campbell. "Theories of Revenge in Renaissance England," MP (February, 1931), p. 296.

(33) Bowers, pp. 86-87, citing, "For this same lord / I do repent...", (III,iv,174 ff).

(34) Prosser, P. 136.

(35) Parenthetically, Romeo echoes Hamlet by invoking Providence: "But he that hath the steerage of my course / Direct my sail!" Both characters confront a malevolent universe operated by God's instruments, "fate," and the "ghost." Yet each pay implies a life-affirming denouement, with 'evil' serving the Divine plan. In Romeo, of course, fate is the more crudely developed antecedent of the ghost's 'vicious mole.' The mole introspective psychological-moral dynamic reflects more aptly Shakespeare's mastery of his power to "invent personality," (Bloom's contention).

(36) Greenblatt, p. 230.

(37) "...there arises the important doubt whether the ghost has been a demon to delude him into damning his soul by the murder of an innocent man, or indeed an agent of Heaven appointing him to an act of justice." (Bowers, p. 87).

(38) In What Happens in Hamlet, Dover Wilson (who opts for a Purgatorial spirit!!) notes: "With his [Hamlet's] upbringing , with the possibility of deception by a visitant from Hell...the moment his father's form sinks into the earth beneath his eyes, what is he to think when the spirit behaves exactly like an underground demon?" pp. 82-83.

(39) Greenblatt, p. 253.

(40) Harold Bloom. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead Books, 1998, p. 320.

(41) Thus in Lear we have the horror of the King wishing to "crawl toward death." (I,i,37)

(42) In other words, the "vicious mole."

(43) Included therein is God's allowing ghosts to plague the sinful. In 1 Henry IV, Bolingbroke voices this sentiment to his son as a 'justification' for his misdeeds with Falstaff. The 'ghost' of course is his guilty conscience from the death of Richard II.

(44) Dotage: a generic term used to cover several mental disorders including madness, frenzy, Lycanthropia (wolf-madness), Hydrophobia, Chorus sancti Viti (St. Vitus' dance), and obsession or possession of devils.