So Good It’s Haunting: The Ghost of Old King Hamlet Character Perspective

“Doom’d 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.”

(1.5. 10–13)



Muhammad and Elissa

          Ghost of Old King Hamlet. A character whose presence is only temporary yet holds a major impact on the story’s plot, cannot be disregarded as a character without significance. Although the ghost appears briefly where he speaks or acts, the impact it has on Hamlet and the commencing of the plot is substantial. We believe that a character who can influence the main character to such an extent, while only having such a small variety of lines, holds a vast amount of significance. Furthermore, the ghost is certainly one such character whose honor was forcibly stripped in the midst of a glorious life, in turn influencing it to take drastic measures in order to regain it. It is in this struggle that the events of the play are instigated. William Shakespeare, through usage of the Ghost of Old King Hamlet, attempts to prove that even death cannot prevent an individual from striving to restore their lost honor and certainty. However, in death, the living may become required by the dead in order to assist in the restoration of honor, for the death of one may necessitate the living to resolve the unsolved conflicts. In doing so, regardless of whether or not the living and the dead find peace, the living may be negatively affected.


Creative Piece Number One


The night was still as the fog slowly drifted between pillars of stone, settling into the cracks of stained glass in the castle.

Not a sound wandered into the hall but the footsteps of Horatio and Marcellus in the distance.

Consumed by the silence and reminded of all he has lost, Hamlet felt as if it was all suffocating him – the memories, the pain, the heartbreak…



Oh yes, his heart is beating fast. He can hear the beat thrumming in his ears as he wonders why it’s racing so quickly.

Hamlet thinks he remembers.

At the thought his eyes snap up towards a dark figure in the distance, tauntingly slow as it swiftly moves closer. Hamlet’s eyes squint in a move to get a better sight of what is there.

His heart stops.

The ghost stands still, almost as if a statue has been placed and studies Hamlet from afar.

Blinking in astonishment, what appeared to be a dark figure in the night is gone.

Suddenly Hamlet is alone once again.

But no, he isn’t alone. His fates are in line with his father’s, almost identical although the lines part in the middle only to meet again in the end.

It is only further proven as the ghost appears again and follows Hamlet from behind.

Hamlet feels a cold breeze on his shoulder.

He stops, but he can hear his heartbeat return in the silence.

A dark figure drifts past him as Hamlet can only stare; it ceases its movements once directly in front of him.

Hamlet meets the eyes of the ghost, and he can see himself in the reflection of his father’s eyes.

“I am thy father’s spirit;”

The creative piece I chose was writing a vignette which is often a short, descriptive scene capturing a single moment. I chose to write in this form as it mimics the presence of King Hamlet’s Ghost – short and sweet, yet so impactful in driving Hamlet forward in his quest. Before I begin, I would like to offer why I chose to write more about Hamlet than the perspective of the ghost himself. The character of the ghost is straightforward. His purpose, to push Hamlet further into his ideas of restoring honour, is instantly exemplified. Any feelings he possesses are also pushed to the surface in his words. I felt as though the true way to feel empathy towards the ghost, was to first feel a connection to Hamlet’s emotions.

I believe that the character of the ghost and Hamlet are in a way one being. The emotions of the ghost and the emotions of Hamlet both intertwine, and you can find many similarities. Both characters want to restore the King’s honour, in turn also returning the honour of Hamlet’s family name (as marrying your murdered brother’s widow most likely wasn’t looked too fondly upon in the beginning). I feel as though my piece can then be used to enhance the empathy towards the ghost when readers can see his feelings through Hamlet. Not to mention, once you share feelings with Hamlet it is easier to feel the emotions the man feels towards the Ghost of Old King Hamlet.

In my work, Hamlet feels alone due to the death of his father and the lack of substance his new life holds. I believe that this contributes to his need for revenge in the story and that deep down a part of him has been lost. Such an event as your father being murdered would take a toll on anyone. Revenge is a most common result of this particular situation, would you not feel the need for justice? As soon as readers can make this connection with my work, they will feel empathy towards Hamlet and his father.


Creative Piece Number Two 



For my creative piece, I chose an artistic approach as I thought it best captured the idea of reflection in relation to the Ghost of Old King Hamlet. Reflection, not in terms of the consideration of the past, but rather the reflection of beliefs, or parallels in beliefs, between the ghost and Hamlet. The Ghost of Old King Hamlet is tormented by his inability to restore his honour; with one deed, Claudius had taken his wife, his throne as well as his life – as a ghost, however, he is powerless, unable to get his revenge. In Hamlet, though, he sees a chance; when he looks at Hamlet, as he does in the artwork, he sees not only his son, but an extension of himself because of their shared beliefs. The ghost’s encounter with Hamlet not only magnifies and strengthens Hamlet’s suspicion of Claudius and his hatred of Gertrude because of her betrayal, but also reinforces the bond between father and son, shown by the idea of eye contact in the piece. The eye contact is also connected to the idea of a shared burden – when an individual does not want their perceived weaknesses to be seen, they avoid eye contact, especially with their loved ones. In this case, because the ghost was once a proud war king, now angry in his grave since his is unable to move on, he looks directly at Hamlet, entrusting him to avenge the crimes done against him. The piece was done in pencil to convey the uncertainty of the atmosphere – with the ghost trapped between worlds, represented by lighter and darker shades – while also showing how death has warped the meaning of consequences for the ghost. While the restoration of his honour is important to both him and Hamlet, he is beyond any worldly consequences of the deaths of others; Hamlet, however, is not. In death, he has become more willing to do whatever is necessary (even to the point of sacrificing his son, because if anyone in the play is aware of the fact that murders bring revenge killings, it is the ghost) to honour the memory of his life. He has essentially entered the moral “grey zone”; however, don’t we all when we are stripped of our honour?


Transition Paragraph


Based on both the vignette and the art shown as the creative pieces, we have come to belief that Hamlet’s father, in telling Hamlet the truth of his death, entrusts Hamlet to carry on his father’s legacy and values, as well as his burdens; effectively restoring the certainty of his lineage as well as restoring his honor. Both pieces portray that when an individual loses their honor and certainty,  they will go to a great extent in an effort of restoration; in King Hamlet’s case, going as far as coming back as a ghost to consign his only son with such a dangerous task, knowing well of the consequences of further murders. In King Hamlet’s eyes, he is only doing what is “right” in order to restore both his own honor as well as order to the country. If he allows someone who is willing to murder his own brother to gain power to remain king, the entire country may be at stake under the wrath of a potential dictator. However, due to the fact that he is “Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,” he is unable to act on his own accord. Hence, he is given no option but to forward this task to Hamlet and, in doing so, transferring his legacy, honor, and burdens onto Hamlet as well.


Personal Connection


Hamlet’s father, in his death, was stripped of his honor, by his brother Claudius. In order to gain access to the crown, Claudius needed to murder the current king – his older brother; removing him of his honor and certainty. Although I cannot relate to having my siblings conspire against me (not yet at least), I can most definitely relate to having the certainty of the consequences of my actions being taken away from me, and losing my honor in the process. Being a high schooler and a teenager, I am bound to make mistakes – some of which have caused others to lose respect and trust towards me. Even if this loss of respect and trust is only temporary, my own self esteem decreases due to my own actions, and I frantically search for a way to redeem myself. Similarly to the ghost, when I have lost my honor in the eyes of someone who I am unable to restore it on my own, I look for a vessel. An ambassador for my cause. Someone who will carry my values and assist me in restoring my honor. The ghost had chosen Hamlet, his own son nonetheless, to restore his honor and become the carrier of his values.  It can be said that no individual wishes to be seen as inferior to another. King Hamlet was one who, in his lifetime as king, could say that he was superior to others. After his death, after being forgotten as king, he loses his honor. He feels inferior. Hence, at any cost, he attempts to get revenge on those who forced him into inferiority.

I’ll give the example of me and my siblings. With 4 of us in total, it is natural for there to be competition of who can get more attention from our parents. One thing which greatly influences the honor I feel I have in my parents eyes is my report card. In 9th grade, when I got my all-time low grade of 56% in leadership, I could clearly tell that my parents had lost a great deal of respect for me. They loved me the same, but I felt so different when compared to my siblings. As much as I tried to repair the damages the grade had caused, I could not create a direct relationship with my parents to the same extent to which I had before. It seemed as though I was unable to restore the certainty of my actions in their eyes, which in turn led to a lack of honor. At that time, I needed help, so I went to my competitors. My siblings advocated for me, exaggerating the amount of help I was to them and assisting me in ensuring my grades went up. Eventually, I was forgiven by my parents, and I once again was able to feel their respect for me and their trust in my actions.

Thus, through the methods used by the ghost in order to achieve redemption through revenge, it can be shown that individuals will go to any heights in order to restore their honor and certainty.




In the unlikely event in which one may be present before the ghost of another, an individual may become subject to manipulation by said creature. Hamlet is no exception – the spirit of his father causes him to lose his sanity and goodwill towards the current king as well has his mother – people who he believes had taken a part in the murder of his father in order to take a step towards the crown. The ghost had a large role in Hamlet’s transformation, as it was through its influence that the ghost’s motives became Hamlet’s; it became Hamlet’s motivation and acted as his reason and passion for his actions. In showing the ghost at the very beginning to Marcellus, Bernardo, and Horatio, Shakespeare brings in the illusion that the ghost is real. But having it only talk to Hamlet may act as evidence for the ghost only being a figment of their imagination, and it speaking with Hamlet is proof of Hamlet’s pre-existing madness, which is then spurred by his conversation with the ghost and his new-found desire to achieve. Another reason of Hamlet’s madness may have been that his desire was motivated completely externally – through the ghost, which was only attempting to restore its own honor. In Hamlet’s perspective, he is working to restore the honor of his father and the certainty of his lineage, while at the same time restoring his own honor as the son of a king. Hamlet’s father lost his honor and respect in his death, which is proven when his name and stature is no longer mentioned and he is only referred to as the current king’s sibling. Through Hamlet, he finds a way to restore all he had lost, as he is unable to do so on his own. The consequences of using Hamlet as his mechanism of restoration induced a sudden madness into Hamlet, fueled by anger towards those who harmed his father. This brings along the question of the morality of the ghost. The spirit of Hamlet’s father may have lost its sense of morals and ethics, and was only driven by thoughts of vengeance to restore its honor. As the ghost gave Hamlet his “mission,” Hamlet too lost his sense of morality – and being a human, this spurred Hamlet’s madness. However, being a supernatural creature, the ghost remains unaffected. This evidence serves to prove that those who lose their honor and certainty may be willing to sacrifice their own morality along with the morality of others in order to regain their sense of honor, with a lack of consideration as to how the others may be affected.




Though the ghost of Old King Hamlet may seem to be an insignificant character when compared to Hamlet himself, one must remember that it was this man’s struggle to restore his honour after his death which ignited the events of the play, thus making him a pivotal character in the storyline. Through his perspective, Shakespeare has revealed the fears and uncertainty in the minds of the living when it comes to the inevitable reality of death—that death does not wait for unresolved issues to be corrected or allow the people it claims to restore their honour. Rather, it is left up to the living to recognize and react to the conflicts that once held importance, with the hope that a resolution may allow the dead to rest easy. Effectually, the living become a carrier of the burdens of those who have passed, especially when it comes to honour lost in death. Therefore, it may be said that death adds another layer of uncertainty in relation to restoring one’s honour—and ultimately, regardless of whether the responses of the living allow the dead to find peace or not, the dead cannot control the actions of or the repercussions on those they spurred to act. The Ghost of Old King Hamlet is a reminder of how memories and lost honour can intertwine to haunt the living—perhaps even driving them to madness.


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8 thoughts on “So Good It’s Haunting: The Ghost of Old King Hamlet Character Perspective

  1. Dear Tarannum, Muhammad, and Elissa,

    This character perspective is so insightful. I really appreciated that you used an unconventional character choice for this, it surprised and intrigued me. I loved all portions of this assessment – even though the pieces were written separately, your ideas still flowed and were consistent, with each writer still maintaining their own style. I now feel that I have a new insight on the ghost, and the idea “that even death cannot prevent an individual from striving to restore their lost honor and certainty” was a twist on the prompt that I was not expecting. The idea of reflection was also an incredible addition to this blog.

    I loved that you focused on the ghosts’s influence on Hamlet, though, while reading Elissa’s piece, I couldn’t help but wonder about the ghosts indirect impact on Gertrude (I realize that the ghost never made contact with anyone other than Hamlet, though he was able to influence Hamlet’s perception of the honour and certainty with which he viewed his mother.) Any thoughts on this?

    Thank you for posting this, it was “so good, it’s haunting.” Can’t wait to read more that you all write!

    – Shyla

    1. Lovely Shyla,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on our blog! We (yes, I know for certain that the others would agree with me on this one) are so grateful for the time you took to read through our madness.

      The ghost was actually a common point of interest for our motley crew of individuals (I recall thinking, in the beginning, why the ghost was even given as an option. Then we figured other groups were unlikely to write about him, and the ghost deserved some love too, you know?) He was interesting to write about, and it definitely helps to know that you managed to make sense of our thoughts.

      I truly cannot believe how you harnessed the power of my silly pun at the end. Seriously, I regret my entire existence because of this title. So much shame.

      Thank you once again for the comment!


  2. Dear Muhammad, Elissa, and Tarannum,

    As Shyla mentioned, I was surprised at your choice of King Hamlet as a character that fit the prompt, a character who I had personally almost forgotten about up until his third appearance in Act III, but after reading your interpretations, I have gained a clearer understanding of who he is, his importance, relationship with Hamlet, and his actions regarding the theme of honour and certainty. All I can say is that this character perspective was really well written, the way you weaved the text in with the prompt resulted in a very cohesive structure. The two creative pieces especially worked hand in hand as well as the interplay between the concepts of the living and the dead. I appreciated that in the transition paragraph, there was a mention of your main quote, as some people have inserted the quote as evidence or meaning, yet don’t expand on it later on. Not only did you know your information, but you also presented it with a purpose. There was nothing that seemed out of place, and I felt a sense of sincerity throughout this piece.


    1. Faith,

      Thank you so much for the comment! You don’t know how much I appreciate that you took the time to look through our congealed chaos; if our work has made you think, even if only for a moment, that the ghost is important (he is!), then our goal has been met.

      I am so incredibly grateful for your comment; it is really nice to know that someone reads and appreciates the work.

      With thanks,


  3. Dear friends,

    This was so cool! I loved that you chose to write about the ghost for your project. This character certainly takes a great amount of insight and critical thinking and so I applaud you on doing so. It was so nice to see the little splashes of each of you in this blog post. I think that even if your names were not mentioned above the sections that you did, I would have still been able to tell who wrote what, and the coolest part is that it still had such a coherent flow. I loved that Muhammad did the personal connection as we rarely get to see the more personal side of him. As for the artwork, you guys blessed my eyes with Taranum’s genius yet again, and oh boy, you can never go wrong with Elissa’s creative writing skills. As a proud g12 mama I say bravo; you guys are better thanI could ever have been in grade 11.

    Some advice that I would offer (which i understand is difficult considering the choice of character): I would have liked to see more specific examples that correlated with your arguments. I understand that the ghost has little lines, but something cool you could have done was integrate statements of feelings that other characters (such as Marcellus and Hamlet), and use those evidences within your paragraph in a way that manipulates them to fit the ghost’s perspective – however that is just a suggestion!!

    Great job guys, keep up the good work!

    With love,

    1. Dearest “Gr. 12 mama”,

      Thanks so very much for the comment! It truly means a lot to hear from you, one of the people I look up to in this class.

      Thank you for the suggestions, and for the compliments (I think I blushed a little internally while reading your kind words)!


  4. Elissa, Muhammad, and Tarannum,

    As far as my knowledge goes, I don’t think there is another group who decided to do the ghost of Old Hamlet, so I have to commend you for analyzing a character who doesn’t make too many appearances. Personally, I wouldn’t have had the guts to do that. What really impressed me is how much depth you managed to pull out of his character. At a first glance, I didn’t really think that anyone could write an extensive blog post on this character, but you two have proven me wrong on that. You’ve brought up a lot of new and interesting topics on Old Hamlet’s character, that I never thought about. In fact, when you look at the prompt we were given, it fits his character perfectly. He lost the honourable title of king, and is forced to reconcile by prompting his estranged, grieving son to seek revenge.

    Just for your information, I decided to divide this comment up by critiquing something that each person worked on individually so it’s fair 🙂

    Elissa, I thought your vignette was rather interesting to read, and I was surprised when you chose to illustrate the scene from Hamlet’s perspective instead of the ghost’s. You made a good point by saying that feeling empathy from Hamlet’s viewpoint increases one’s empathy for the ghost as well. In a way, both characters are grieving something, so they do have a lot of commonalities between them, they have both lost something, the ghost has lost his honour (and Hamlet arguably as well), while Hamlet has lost his father. I think that doing this was a very unique take on this assignment, and it worked out in your favour.

    Once again, in the creative second piece the connection between Hamlet and the ghost is reinforced. I think it was very interesting that you argued how the ghost was powerless to do anything, and was therefore completely dependent on Hamlet to restore his honour and certainty. Hamlet and the ghost do share a bond, considering their unanimous desire for revenge. In a way, they both are fighting the same battle, and this creates a bond between them that serves to fuel both of their desires to restore their honour.
    (Also, I’m wondering if you made this illustration yourself, Tarannum since I know you’re quite the artist, and you don’t reference any external sources for this creative piece, if you did, good job, I’ve been envious of your art skills for the longest time)

    In regards to the insight paragraph, I think it’s quite interesting how you argued that the ghost manipulated Hamlet, which is quite interesting. many people often think that Hamlet had a healthy relationship with his father, but presenting the idea that Old Hamlet manipulated his son is a rather refreshing perspective. One thing I would have liked to see you address though, is the idea that the spirit of Old Hamlet isn’t actually the ghost of the old king, but is instead a malicious apparition trying to wreak havoc upon the kingdom of Denmark. I think it would have added more depth to your argument for you to argue why you think the ghost is in fact the soul of Old Hamlet and not something else.

    Although I was guilty of this as well in my character perspective, I feel that your group probably could have added more visuals to make the piece more appealing to the eye. I found that the visuals you used were inconsistent, and although they were related to the piece, I believe that you possibly could have made them appear more consistently. It’s a nitpicky detail, but it was sticking in my mind when I reading. Overall, I’m impressed that you managed to write such an in depth analyzation of what I initially thought to be a shallow character with a minor role.
    – Genevieve

    1. Dear Genevieve,

      I once heard somewhere that the less you know about something, the easier it is to attempt it; I suppose you could say that principle applied when we were deciding on which character to choose for the blog (we figured that if we failed, at least it would be a rather refreshing failure.)

      Anyways, thank you for the comment! It is really nice to know that people appreciate the ghost as a character, even if it is only a bit more than before. We will definitely keep you suggestions in mind for the next blog.

      As for the drawing – yes, it is my own, though I would hardly say my skills are hardly anything to be envious of. Everything comes with time, after all.

      Once again, thank you for the comment; it means so much to hear your feedback!


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