.. a questionable shape" (Shakespeare, I: ii) and the nature of the ghost has always been questioned. In other words, the variations of interpretations and criticisms regarding the play have dealt also with the nature of the ghost who takes the form of the protagonist's dead father. In a careful reading of the text which looks deeper into the realities and evidences in the text, one comes to identify several instances that question the acceptance of the ghost as Hamlet's dead father. Therefore, one of the most illumining discussions on the various major themes of the play would focus on an investigation of the nature of the ghost and to answer what is the ghost in the play. "On one point all critics have agreed. It is not a mere folk ghost: a graveyard spook of popular imagination, returned from the charnel house, wandering among tombs, guarding treasure, haunting its earthly abodes. It is not a mere pagan ghost: a forlorn soul seeking proper burial, an errant soul still stained with the lusts of the world, hovering over the grave, the spirit of a murdered man pursuing his murderer or wandering until the day when he would have died naturally. The first scene of Hamlet puts the Ghost into Christian perspective. The possibility that the Ghost is a hallucination is eliminated immediately." (Prosser, 101) Therefore, this paper make a profound analysis of the nature of the ghost in the play Hamlet by Shakespeare and it undertakes an investigation of the varied opinions and realities about the nature of the ghost whether it is a figment in the imagination of a troubled mind or a real thing, an angelic ghost or devilish ghost etc.
There is a general agreement among the Shakespearean critics that Hamlet is the most problematic play ever written and the complexities concerning the nature of the ghost substantiate the view. The nature of the ghost in the play Hamlet by Shakespeare is thrown into question and debate as in no other play of the Elizabethan or Jacobean period and the opening question of such controversies is whether the ghost is a real thing or a figment in the imagination of the troubled mind of the protagonist Hamlet. When the character Hamlet himself questions the genuineness of the ghost who appears to be his dead father, the question becomes all the more complex, and one of the major reasons for the revenge on the murderer of his father being delayed by the protagonist has been his uncertainty regarding the ghost. Hamlet is not convinced about the realities of the ghost and he has several questions before the ghost of his father who 'com'st in...a questionable shape'. "Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd, / Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, / Be thy intents wicked or charitable, / Thou comest in such a questionable shape / That I will speak to thee: I'll call thee Hamlet, / King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me! / Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell / Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death, / Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre, / Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd, / Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws, / To cast thee up again'" (Shakespeare, I: ii) Therefore, the protagonist does not believe in the realities of the ghost and there is a strong opinion among the Shakespearean critics that the ghost is a figment in the imagination of the troubled mind of Hamlet. In fact, it is not the hero in the play alone who questions the authenticity of the ghost and