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Probability in Hamlet: The Ghost Scene

            Hamlet is perhaps the greatest work of English drama ever written. The story is filled with intricate plot twists and imagery. It deals with the themes of madness, jealousy, deception and love. And like any good Shakespeare play there is the element of the supernatural and also bloodthirsty rage, two elements that are sure to draw in a crowd. It is the former that I will discuss here, the supernatural.
             How do you take a play like Hamlet that tells the story of a young man filled with rage and self-doubt and interject a ghost into it without losing credibility? The short answer is, hey it's Shakespeare and he can do whatever he wants because he is that good. However a more scholarly way to look at the credibility of the ghost in Hamlet is to examine the probability of the encounter.
             So how do you introduce a ghost to reality? Local superstition is the method that Shakespeare uses in Hamlet. From the very beginning, he makes the appearance of the ghost probable through the character Horatio. Horatio sets up precedent for the existence of spirits when tells Bernardo that sometimes spirits walk when there is something out of place. Hamlet continues this as he ponders why his father's spirit is up in arms. He says that all is not well and that he doubts some foul play. These two dialogues justify the existence of the ghost. Later the ghost justifies his own presence by telling Hamlet about his murder. The murder is the foul play of which Hamlet speaks and also the grounds that make the ghost probable.

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