Before realizing who his father’s killer is, Hamlet’s relationship with Claudius seems to be disdained, filled with hatred and contempt, and is occasionally contentious and strained. Hamlet is upset when his mother quickly remarries Claudius and compares his mother’s relationship to that she had with his father. Hamlet loved his father, and from the play, it appears he idolized him. As such, before Hamlet meets his father’s ghost, he is profoundly saddened by his death. In trying to find out who his father’s murderer is, Hamlet is overwrought when he discovers Claudius is his father’s killer. The relationship between Hamlet and his father seems to be founded on his love for him. While Hamlet’s father holds himself distant from his son’s love, his interaction with Hamlet becomes personal only after his death.
Hamlet’s Relationship with the Ghost
In the dark of the night, Hamlet hears a voice that claims to be his father’s ghost. The ghost comes to Hamlet to rouse him to take revenge for its death over what it considers a “foul and most unnatural murder” (Shakespeare et al., 2019, I.v.25). From this scene in Act I, the relationship between Hamlet and the ghost of his father is founded on the demand to seek revenge on Claudius, the killer. The revelation appalls Hamlet on realizing that his father was murdered and from the disclosure, the ghost makes known how the murder happened (Mulherin & Payne, 2016). The spirit tells Hamlet that while he slept in the garden, the very villain who currently wears his crown poured poison into his ear. Hamlet’s worst fears against his uncle, Claudius, are confirmed, and he cries, “O my prophetic soul” (Shakespeare et al., 2019, I.v,40). Based on the revelations, the ghost presses Hamlet to hunt for revenge. Further, the spirit tells Hamlet not to act against his mother since she has been taken from her first marriage’s pure love and seduced by the foul lust associated with the incestuous relationship.
How Hamlet’s Relationship with the Ghost Drives Him Insane
As the first light breaks and the ghost fades away, Hamlet is moved and swears to both remember and obey the spirit. He goes ahead to pretend to be mad and makes the suggestion he is doing more or less too good a job of it. So convincingly, Hamlet’s portrayal makes many critics contend he is already insane. His critiqued fragile sanity blows apart at the sight of his father’s ghost. Nonetheless, Hamlet’s observations in his insanity state make him support the information his father’s ghost shares with him. Hamlet’s pretense is significant, and he declares, “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw” (Shakespeare et al., 2019, II.ii.362). Hamlet’s madness is only specific at calculated times, and for the other moments, he fully comprehends what is going on. Nonetheless, Hamlet is upset and confused, and the confusion translates into an extraordinarily intense mind state of suggestive madness. Later on, in Act III, scene ii, when Claudius asks how Hamlet is, his response appears quite insane as he says, “Excellent, i’ faith: o the chameleon’s dish: I eat the air, promise-crammed” (Shakespeare et al., 2019, III.ii.85). Hamlet distresses Ophelia with a sequence of erotic jokes and enquires Polonius concerning his past as an actor.
Hamlet’s state of madness becomes an issue of concern for Claudius, and he devises traps to catch Hamlet on his secrets. Claudius uses spies to try to uncover Hamlet’s actual state of madness. On his part, at the theatre, Hamlet endeavors to “catch the conscience of the king” (Shakespeare et al., 2019, III.ii.582). Hamlet uses the play-within-a-play, which he believes will give an opportunity to set up the base of Claudius’s fault. With questions about whether to feel his father’s ghost, Hamlet sets up the play with the intention of reading Claudius’s behavior for any possible indications of emotional guilt. Hamlet delights in his strategy; however, Claudius’ emotional guilt proves challenging to read since he fails to react to the story’s content. Having used the information from his father’s ghost to establish the play, Hamlet mimics the exact actions that led to his father’s death. Finally, Claudius reacts to the play by itself, unlike he does to the story, and this establishes, with clarity, that Claudius is the man behind King Hamlet’s death (Wilson, 2021). Hamlet’s state of madness changes with the truth out, and he appears more composed than before.
Hamlet’s relationship with his father seems to be founded on the love he has for him. While his affiliation with Claudia appears to be disdained, he is upset with his mother’s relationship with Claudius. When the ghost of his dead father appears to him, Hamlet is roused to take revenge. Hamlet becomes knowledgeable of the details leading to his father’s death. Acting insane, Hamlet uses the information gathered to set up a play that he hopes will evoke emotions in Claudius. Success comes when Claudius reacts to Hamlet’s play-within-a-play despite not showing emotions earlier in the story, and the truth finally comes out.
Mulherin, J., & Payne, R. (2016). Hamlet. Cherrytree Books.
Shakespeare, W., Edwards, P., & Hirschfeld, H. A. (2019). Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Cambridge University Press.
Wilson, J. D. (2021). What Happens In Hamlet. Chicago: Barakaldo Books.