What were the Elizabethan beliefs about ghosts, the afterlife, heaven and hell?
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Belief in ghosts and the afterlife was common in Shakespeare's time, the variance in views and opinions were rooted in religion.
Catholics believed in the doctrine of purgatory and that ghosts were the spirits of those returning for some special purpose. These spirits should be aided if possible so that their soul may find rest. The Ghost told Hamlet he is doomed to walk the night "till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purg'd away." (1.5.12-13) The Protestants however denied the doctrine of purgatory and believed that a person's soul went directly to either heaven…
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