Demons and puns
Revisiting the ‘cellarage scene’ in Hamlet
in Shakespeare and the supernatural
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The ‘cellarage scene’, which follows Hamlet’s interview with the Ghost, stages the latter in a very ambiguous and disconcerting way. This chapter turns to more popular, medieval, intertextual antecedents of Hamlet’s ghostly figure, arguing that this sequence looks back towards medieval stage traditions that survived into the late-sixteenth century, not only because the couple formed by the subterranean Ghost and Hamlet is reminiscent of that of the Devil and the Vice in morality plays, but also because of other, more specific elements like the plurality of the oath, Hamlet’s disrespectful tone and the nicknames given by Hamlet to the Ghost. The whole sequence may be seen both as a living tableau on the stage and as comic relief, part of Hamlet’s wider propensity for puns.



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