Abstract or Introduction
Revenge tragedy is, as the notion implies, primarily concerned with revenge and consequently also with death. One naturally raises the question what may happen to all those dead bodies when sudden death has terminated life on earth. Is the physical death coercively accompanied by the soul’s death?
The belief in an afterlife – not only concerning religious conceivabilities – has been popular ever since the beginning of human life. This paper focuses on a very special form of afterlife – the one of being a ghost. Between 1580 and 1590 those “spooky” creatures have been assigned a definite role among the dramatis personae of English (revenge) tragedies: Twenty-six plays written between 1560 and 1610 include fifty-one ghosts (cf. Prosser, 259, Moorman¹, 90), being highly different concerning their outward appearances, the inner life and motifs and their general functions in the play. Aeschylus was the first author using revenge ghosts (named Darius and Clytemnestra) in his plays. Euripides introduced the very first prologue ghost named Polydorus, whose function was to summarize the plot and to connect the chain of events. Seneca, finally, was the first author to combine the Euripidean prologue ghost with the Aeschylean revenge ghost (cf. Moorman¹, 85/86).
This paper focuses on the ghosts in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and Kyd’s “Spanish Tragedy”. While Don Andrea and Revenge primary function as prologue ghost and as a commenting and judgemental chorus, dead King Hamlet’s ghost is the “lynchpin” of the play, initiating and pursuing his very own vengeance.
In order to point out the ghosts´ different dramatic functions, they will be compared in terms of the outward appearance (chapter 2.1) and their personal motifs and values (chapter 2.2). Besides, the frequency and manner of occurrences will be analyzed (chapter 3) in order to point out the ghosts´ overall functions in the tragedies (chapter 4).
- Quote paper
- Katharina Unkelbach (Author), 2013, A Comparative Analysis of the Ghosts´ Appearances, Motifs and Functions in Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" and Kyd´s "The Spanish Tragedy", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/231899