Horror Scenes in Shakespeare: Hamlet’s Father Haunts Elsinore Castle

Today’s post via Shakespeare Nerd focuses on the ghostly apparition of the former king in the opening scenes of ‘Hamlet’.


Shakespeare Nerd

‘Hamlet’ opens with a spooky, although not macabre, scene. This scene is all about those common elements that make horror work: creepy chills, fear and dread. 

It’s the dead of night and the guards at Elsinore Castle are going about their regular duties, except that they seem nervous: Bernardo opens with the line “Who’s there?” and Marcellus leads their conversation leads with, “What, has this thing appeared again tonight?”

They are discussing the apparition that has appeared to them on the two previous nights. As they talk, the ghost appears again. It doesn’t speak to them, it doesn’t harm them… but it definitely scares them. 

As they discuss the ghost and hypothesise as to whether or not it’s a bad omen, it returns, spreads its arms wide, and then disappears when a rooster crows. 

Afterwards, Horatio tells Hamlet about seeing the ghost, and gives more detail of how frightened they…

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