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Shakespeare’s Hamlet: A Discussion, Part III (Act 2)

That an unknown spirit asks Hamlet to commit murder is evidence that this is an evil spirit. Hamlet himself is not sure, questions the ghost as to who he is. Doubt. Hamlet is not thinking with a clear mind. He is pushed to the edge. There is a parallel structure in keeping an eye on the young men in the play: Laertes is being watched to see that he is not drinking, gambling, fencing, or acquainting himself with wanton women. Hamlet is watched to discover what he is thinking. Fortinbras is watched for his political activities. These are typical behaviors of young men that must be watched over by the adults. Hamlet is not ready to follow the order of the ghost. He is not ready to act. He is still bound in a world of thought. With rejection by Ophelia as well, he has lost his final source of stability. Life is becoming an awful burden for him. There is nothing left to hold onto in this world. He talks of death; not of the kings, but of his own.

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