relationship with his father, King Hamlet, also seems to be a fairly positive one.
However, there is very little information given in the play about the relationship
between the father and his son. The great respect Hamlet shows toward his departed
father though indicates that their relationship was at least civil. In the
play, Hamlet places his father on a pedestal, and at one point compares him to
‘Hyperion’, a Greek god whose name translates to “The High-One”. Hamlet references
a few Greek and Roman mythological characters while discussing his father. While
talking to his mother, Hamlet refers to:
curls; the front of Jove himself;
eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
station like the herald Mercury
lighted on a heaven-kissing hill (Act 3, Scene 4, ll.57-60)
comparisons show Hamlet thinks highly of his deceased father, which is also
shown by how committed he is to avenging his father’s death. Although the ghost
of King Hamlet seems to use his son to serve his own purposes, this behaviour
can be expected from a recently murdered king who is suffering in purgatory and
whose murderer has just married his wife, and now holds his title as king.
Hamlet’s commitment to avenging his father’s death can be seen to be one of the
reasons he goes mad. Hamlet is so connected with his father that his spirit
appears in front of his eyes from time to time, persuading him to seek revenge.
His father’s spirit insists that it was a murder that Hamlet must reveal everything
in order his soul could be free. Hamlet has an inner struggle between following
the orders of his deceased father who he worships, and a moral obligation to
figure out if Claudius is actually the murderer before he kills him. This links
to the theme of madness in the play, as this moral tug-of-war Hamlet faces can
be linked to his descent into madness. Although it is clear that Hamlet is
already struggling with his sanity before he sees his father’s ghost. This
moral struggle he faces between avenging his father’s death and doing what he
feels is right seems to push him over the edge.