Hamlet starts with a bang. Nervous guards, a sceptical scholar--and a ghost. What are we to make of a ghost that is feared and distrusted, even by Hamlet, yet which seems to give accurate information about Hamlet's father's death; and which appears to everybody at the beginning, then to Hamlet alone later?

There is of course no way of knowing exactly what Shakespeare believed about ghosts, but the interpretation of Hamlet's character, and the staging of the scenes, will be conditioned by what an audience--especially the original one--might expect Hamlet to believe.