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There are, he shows, no good ghosts, and Purgatory, whence the Ghost came, was reviled in Protestant England.The Ghost's manipulation extends to Hamlet's fool/madman role, and Hamlet's soliloquy reveals the ambition, conscience, and suicidal despair that damn him.

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The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians.

The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas.

Mc Gee's vision of Shakespeare is not of a genius playwright who might take well-known conventions and accept them enough to please the censors, but give them a fresh twist: He seems to think the author of the play was strictly bound by convention and literary precedents, and by a kind of assumed robotic tendency of his audience to interpret Hamlet like every other play or work of literature it resembled.

In other words, there does not seem to be any hope for artistic transcendence in Mc Gee's vision of Shakespeare as author.

Hamlet's gesture to give his voice or vote to Fortinbras as the next king - to replace all the dead royalty on stage - is an empty gesture that only gives power to a rebellious, sinful, power-hungry man.

To Mc Gee, there's no possibility that this gesture might be a conscious or unconscious effort on Prince Hamlet's part to heal the wounds his father created when he killed Old Fortinbras.5.

But he seems to assume that the acceptance of the break from Rome in Reformation England was swift and clean and total for Shakespeare's audiences, and too many good scholars have shown in more recent decades that this was not the case, so in that sense, the book is somewhat dated and biased.

But the insights of the author are very helpful, and although the shortcomings of the book are formidable, I give it three stars instead of two.

Mc Gee provides a wealth of sources on this and many other points, including aspects related to Ophelia's madness. To him, Hamlet is not changed by this sea-voyage, does not have anything like a conversion experience in his new-found trust in Providence, and is hell-bound.3.

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