If true to form, this potential biblical motif would comfortingly be supported in the text by one or two key biblical references, wouldn’t it? Sure enough, first Barnardo alludes to the Star of Bethlehem, then Marcellus (the ones guarding the ‘flock’) alludes to the advent of the saviour. The sheer unlike-liness of this opening scene from Hamlet being a famous biblical motif just pulls the wool from those sheep right over our eyes.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said fear not…unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Last night of all,
When yond same star that’s westward from the pole
Had made his course t’ illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one—
It [the ghost] faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated…
Hamlet, Act I Scene I
The guards are talking about Christmas! This is what I call a rather encouraging start in confirming our hypothesis that Hamlet is acting out the archetype of Jesus. Of course, this is not the gospel, it’s Shakespeare. He’s taking the Annunciation and adapting it for his own version of scripture. This spirit is not just ‘signalling’ that this is about Christ, but he now begins to tell us about the destiny of Jesus, why he has come to earth and what his overarching mission is. In earthly terms, both to disguise it and fuel the drama, it looks like revenge. But spiritually, Christ didn’t come for revenge, he came to rid the consciousness of the contagion, reawaken the sleeping soul of man and open the way home to God cut off by Adam’s original GuiltSin. But there’s nothing about that in Hamlet, you say. Oh no? Look again. Put on those 3D specs and look again.
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