Speaking as Hamlet Ghost
Posted on August 10th, 2010

Ajit Randeniya

Hamlet is generally considered the most highly developed of ShakespeareƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s genre of the Revenge Play that includes Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Richard III. His use of a liberated form of blank verse without formal line limits ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ the unrhymed, iambic pentameter- from the kind that had been made fashionable by Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe, and the use of the character of the ghost typical of his revenge plays in a more sophisticated manner render it so.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the opinion of some critics, ShakespeareƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s use of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ghosts in revenge plays was simply based on the need to play up to the belief in ghosts that was common in his time, and according to some others, theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  character of the ghost was carefully crafted to perform the important dramatic function of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ portraying the minds of other key characters. The character of the Ghost in Hamlet who is central to the plot certainly falls in to the latter category.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The character identified in stage directions of Hamlet simply as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”GhostƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ is the ghost of Prince Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet in the dramatis personae; the character is of such importance to setting the plot into motion, according to legend, Shakespeare himself played the Ghost originally.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Students of Shakespeare argue about the real dramatic significance of the Ghost in Hamlet: the need for it doubly perplexing because ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Historia DanicaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ the original history of Denmark Hamlet is based on, written by Saxo Grammaticus in the twelfth century, (leading to accusations that Shakespeare plagiarised the original or its French translation by FranƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚§ois de Belleforest), did not include the character of the Ghost.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ShakespeareƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s auditors seem to view the Ghost alternately as an illusion, as a portent foreshadowing danger to Denmark, a spirit returning from the grave because of a task left undone, a spirit from purgatory sent with divine permission and a devil who assumes the form of a dead person to lure mortals to doom.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If the reader is wondering as to where the discourse on this Shakespearean character is heading, it is in fact related to the recent boo-boo by that Sri Lankan politician, criminal and cretin, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”DrƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Mervin Silva; more particularly, his dastardly act of tying a public servant to a tree as punishment for arriving late at work.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Strange as it may seem, it appears that Sri Lanka currently needs someone to perform the role of the Ghost in Hamlet, by occasionally reminding the powers that be the need sometimes to jettison characters unworthy of being allowed near the seat of power. Simply in order to save their own reputations and also in order to keep within the straight and narrow. Someone needs to tell President Rajapakse that Mervin Silva should certainly be the first such pariahƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to be jettisoned. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It needs to be remembered while attempting to draw parallels between Denmark and Sri Lanka, or between Prince Hamlet and President Rajapakse, that any malaise affecting Sri Lanka is far different qualitatively and quantitatively from the theme of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”bodily corruptionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Shakespeare emphasised in Hamlet: ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the background against which the GhostƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ indicates to Hamlet and Marcellus that ‘all is not well’, and that ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’ was a place where Claudius had killed the King and usurped the throne. It speaks to Hamlet to make him aware of Claudius’ act.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There is no suggestion that President Rajapakse in any way resembles Hamlet who is a character full of anguish, trauma, despair, doubt and self-doubt, albeit with a sardonic sense of humour. Nor has he been faulted or deceived by an uncle or his kingdom usurped.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ However, just as Hamlet could not have reached fulfilment of himself without the Ghost, President Rajapakse may need the assistance of one. Though the Ghost in Hamlet was his foully killed father’s spirit on a mission for the salvation of Denmark, an average citizen should be able to play the role in Sri Lanka! Simply because all his good work is being undone by being associated with thugs like Mervin Silva.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Ghost in Hamlet discloses to him the suspicions already in the minds of Hamlet and his friends. The evidence overcomes HamletƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s unwillingness to think evil of the king without some undoubted proof. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  In our case, President Rajapakse must surely have heard enough about the deeds of this moron previously, and this particular act that clearly marks a new low should be adequate to convince him of the need to remove this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”excretaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ from the national scene. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The affected public servants have behaved with restraints so far, and there is news that the pariah is about to issue an apology. No amount of apologies or other ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Band AidƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ solutions are unlikely to cleanse the governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s reputation following this faux pas and his metaphorical beheading will be the only remedy.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Hamlet saw ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”the canker of our natureƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”of DenmarkƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in Claudius too late. The government needs to act fast to save its reputation and more importantly, that of president RajapakseƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s by removing Mervin Silva from civilisation. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  He brings disrepute to Sri Lanka.

One Response to “Speaking as Hamlet Ghost”

  1. gdesilva Says:

    Just read the news that Mervyn is a goner….he should have been sent home long time ago but it is never too late, I guess.

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