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Shakespeare: Hamlet

2. The Ghost

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the character of the Ghost, which is unusual in three key aspects: (1) It is exceptionally talkative. Elsewhere, Shakespeare’s ghosts have no lines (e.g. Macbeth), three lines (e.g. Julius Caesar), or 4-8 lines (e.g. Richard III, Cymbeline), but this one has 80+ lines. (2) It is wearing armour, which is not a standard dress for ghosts, which Old Hamlet was not wearing when he died, and which presents a serious problem in staging. And (3) It signally fails to confront its murderer, as the ghosts in Richard III, Julius Caesar and Macbeth (as well as other plays of the period) pointedly do.


In this course, Dr John Lennard explores Shakespeare's Hamlet. In the first module, we explore the idea of Hamlet as a revenge tragedy, and think about how Shakespeare has complicated the basic structure. In the second module, we consider the character of the Ghost, who is one of the most unusual ghosts in Shakespearean drama. In the third module, we think about the comparisons that the play insists upon, as well as the impact that "dramatic doubling" may have had on the play. In the fourth module, we look at the role of Hamlet himself, an exceptionally dominant and demanding role. And in the fifth module, we turn to the concept of metatheatre and its pervasiveness in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.


Born in Bristol, and educated at Oxford and St Louis, Dr John Lennard has taught English, American, and Commonwealth Literature in Cambridge, London, and Jamaica over more than twenty years. He has written two widely used textbooks (on poetry and drama) and monographs on Shakespeare, Paul Scott, Nabokov, and Faulkner, as well as two collections of essays on contemporary genre writers in crime, science fiction and fantasy, and romance. Enthusiastic, discursive, widely knowledgeable, and a demon for punctuation (on which he has also published extensively), he has been a popular Summer School Course Leader and lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Education since 1992.

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APA style

Lennard, J. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: Hamlet - The Ghost [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lennard, J. "Shakespeare: Hamlet – The Ghost." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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