How do you respond to Shakespeareâ€™s presentation of the impact of Christian Belief in â€œHamletâ€? You should base your answer on a detailed examination of at least two appropriate sequences of your choice.
â€œHamletâ€ was written in Tudor England when the predominant religion was Christianity. The values of Christian belief and tradition are shown throughout the play. To interpret the way Shakespeare presents the impact of Christian Belief in â€œHamletâ€ I shall examine the play as a whole as well as focussing on two sequences of my choice. For many in Shakespearean times, the main focal points of religion were related to birth, marriage and death. The principle of marriage was that two people would be joined together in the presence of God and blessed by the Church. This blessing would have made their physical intimacy sacrosanct. This idea is presented to the audience in Act II, Scene I when Ophelia is warned against Hamletâ€™s advances by Polonius and Laertes as she should remain â€œchasteâ€.
The opening of the play immediately presents the audience with the Christian view of death. The ghost of Hamletâ€™s father is an example of a Christian belief; that troubled souls walk the Earth. We learn later that during the day he is in Purgatory, a Catholic belief, where he is forced to pay for his sins on Earth. .
â€œDoomed for a certain term to walk the night, .
And for the day confined to fast in fires.
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature.
Are burnt and purged away.â€ (New Swan Shakespeare Act I, Scene V, lines 10-13) .
The idea that Hamletâ€™s father is unable to pass through Purgatory until he has been cleansed of his sins is a Christian belief. A Shakespearean audience would have immediately understood that something must be wrong if a ghost is there.