Act I, Scene 5: “Another Part of the Platform”
Summary: Hamlet talks to the ghost, who tells him he’s his father and has been murdered and is cursed to come back at night and writhe in fire during the day until he has been avenged, and only Hamlet can save him. The reason for the murder seems to be that the new king wanted the old king’s wife and used magic and poison to kill him and seduce her. The other two men don’t find Hamlet until after the ghost is gone, and Hamlet makes them swear not to tell anyone about it.
Reaction: It was pretty spooky, and the ghost described some great images, like every hair standing on end and something gross with eyeballs. He doesn’t seem like he’d been the greatest parent, since even beyond the grave he’s giving Hamlet a guilt trip about how he’s suffering so much and only if Hamlet does what he wants will he be saved. On a side note, I don’t get why Hamlet has to clear things from his memory or even write anything down just to remember what happened. I’d think this is one of those things you never forget. But maybe he’s afraid he’ll think it’s just a dream or something.
Prediction: Hamlet will begin plotting his revenge. Since he couldn’t hide his grief too well when he’d thought his dad had died of natural causes, everyone will really think he’s acting strange now. I have a feeling things won’t go according to plan for him.
Why This Book Is a Classic: The line, “Alas, poor ghost” made me laugh a little. It seems like something a child would say (except for the “alas”) like, “poor teddy bear,” “poor ant.” And hearing it come from a grown man–royalty, even would only be possible in a classic, I think.
Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Murder, ghosts, revenge, lust? It’s like so many of the shows on TV. What’s there not to like?