“Ann Radcliffe puts her finger on that in her essay ‘On the Supernatural in Poetry’, published posthumously in 1826. In this essay, she suggests that all the ghosts in the recent English literary tradition have their origin in the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Why is Hamlet’s father such a problematic ghost? Because it’s a Catholic ghost in a Protestant tradition. Protestantism runs deep throughout Hamlet—Hamlet studied at Wittenberg, for example. The ghost expresses Protestant anxiety over the Reformation. Protestantism is more democratic than Catholicism—it is not exactly rational, but it enlists scientific developments. It razes the priories and abbeys. And yet it can only account for so much: ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy’, Hamlet says. Something else is going on. There are dreams; we are haunted. But where are we haunted from?” Read more...
The best books on The Gothic