Back to List of Characters

Father's Ghost

Father's Ghost is a mysterious and haunting character in the renowned play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Appearing in Act I, Scene V, Father's Ghost plays a crucial role in driving the plot and revealing the truth about King Hamlet's untimely death.

Described as a "questionable shape" by Horatio, Father's Ghost is the spirit of the deceased King Hamlet, who appears before his son, Prince Hamlet, demanding revenge for his murder. This pivotal encounter sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the tragic downfall of several characters.

Appearance and Motivation

Father's Ghost is depicted as a ghostly figure wrapped in armor, reflecting the manner in which he died – murdered by his own brother, Claudius, who usurped the throne and married Hamlet's widow, Gertrude. The ghost's appearance is foreboding and chilling, adding an element of the supernatural to the play.

The ghost's primary motivation is to seek justice for his murder and ensure that his son, Prince Hamlet, fulfills his duty as the rightful heir to the throne. Father's Ghost implores Hamlet to avenge his death, urging him to "revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." Through his haunting presence, the ghost fuels Hamlet's inner turmoil and sets him on a path of vengeance.

Significance in the Play

Father's Ghost serves as a catalyst for the unfolding tragedy in Hamlet. His appearance not only reveals the truth about King Hamlet's death but also exposes the corruption and deceit within the royal court. The ghost's demand for vengeance places a heavy burden on Hamlet, forcing him to question his own sanity and moral obligations.

The ghost's revelations about Claudius' treachery and Gertrude's complicity deeply impact Hamlet's mental state, leading him to feign madness as he seeks to uncover the truth and carry out his father's wishes. Additionally, the ghost's presence creates a sense of foreboding and supernatural elements throughout the play, enhancing its dramatic and tragic nature.

In conclusion, Father's Ghost is a pivotal character in Hamlet who drives the plot forward and exposes the dark secrets of the royal court. His ghostly appearance and demand for revenge set the stage for the tragic events that unfold in Shakespeare's iconic play.