Spirits And The Supernatural I Essay, Research Paper
The Idea of Spirits and the Supernatural
You will no doubt notice that ghosts and spirits play a rather large role in Hamlet. Not merely as an oft used character, but also as a main basis for the plotline, and one of the key indications of Hamlet s madness. His dead father s spirit stays on our mortal plane to explain how he did to Hamlet. The idea in the play is that the ghost is actually there, as opposed to being a mere figment of Hamlet s imagination. What was the basis for Shakespeare to use the ghost in the first place?
The idea of supernatural beings was not new in Shakespeare s time. It has been around since the dawn of time, due to man s constant fixation on that which he cannot see or explain. However, ideas surrounding ghosts seemed to get more serious in the Middle Ages, due to the rise of many new and different religions. Simply the belief in each person having his or her own spirit may have been enough for many people to see these ghosts.
However, even with the wide occurrences of these visions, and the ease of persuading someone that you had seen one, there was (back then, as much as there is today) your famed privileged elite. The so-called enlightened people, who knew better than to believe in such laughable matters. They considered those who did believe to be mad. The general thought process was that many men do sadly persuade themselves that they see or hear ghosts. If you had seen a ghost, you had in all likeliness gone through something that had caused significant melancholic or angry emotions. The reasoning was that your brain, to compensate, formed a vision of something to do with those emotions. Another explanation was that the death of someone dear to you could cause you to see that person in spirit. If this happened, you were thought to have unfinished business with that ghost (which is ironic, as the person seeing that ghost would probably think that the ghost had some unfinished business with them). These were the official elitist views on ghosts. What one might take into context, however, is that most people in the Elizabethan era were rather uneducated, and the enlightened people were few and far between. This does point to the general populous believing in the supernatural.
Today, with technology, and thus what is real (reality), soaring, and with religion s slowly decreasing numbers, there is nowhere near as much belief in the supernatural (in the Western world, at least). We are more educated as a whole, and know far more about the world than our predecessors did. As a result of their lack of education, their lack of ability to explain many things about the world, and their religions, most people believed in spirits and the supernatural during Elizabethan times.