Romanticism In Fuseli's Hamlet And The Ghost Paintings

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Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy and a major influence upon the development of Romanticism, Fuseli early in his career discovered in Shakespeare a central inspiration for his art. One of the Shakespeare plays that most attracted Fuseli was Hamlet. It is no wonder, then, that Fuseli contributed several paintings on a Hamlet subject to Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, about half of which have survived. However, all were reworked by various engravers and survive in that form in A Collection of Prints. Unfortunately, Fuseli’s Hamlet and the Ghost painting appears to have disappeared after it was sold, and we know it only from the stipple engraving by Robert Thew that was published in 1796 by the Boydells. The effect of the stipple technique in Thew’s engraving is best seen in the manner in which the light from the full moon behind the Ghost’s head merges into the darkness of the night sky. The full moon behind the Ghost’s head can be interpreted as either the moon or as some kind of aura emanating from the Ghost itself. Human figures that stand in front of the castle wall are more clearly tied to the human sphere, while the Ghost is more obviously linked only to the sky behind him. The Ghost’s plate armor emphasizes rather than hides the muscular structure of his body, adding to the impression of the supernatural power exuded by the figure. Hamlet is determined to pursue the Ghost, despite the fear of Horatio and Marcellus that the Ghost may be a devil leading him to his death. Horatio,…show more content…
Here we begin to see the evil that had been lurking around King Hamlet the First in the intrigues of Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius, which makes Hamlet seek revenge and punish the murder and all those who broke the rules of his ideal world. This struggle for just and truth constitutes the whole plot and sense of the

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