What would your gracious figure?

Hamlet’s response to his father’s ghost’s return is complicated. His first reaction is fear. He asks the angels for protection from his fate. He does exactly the same when he first sees the ghost. Pure, primal fear, it would seem.
And then – he switches, if not reactions then tactics. He would seem to become distant and courtly with his father’s ghost. The first time he speaks to the ghost, he uses informal language. He thees and thous him. But here, he swings into you – and not just you – but “your gracious figure.” It has distancing effect – Like, the ghost isn’t his father anymore but a representation of him.
Which – maybe so – given that he’s a ghost. But it’s more like a painting of the ghost or his father. The figure of his father and not his father himself.
And as this scene continues, he continues to speak formally to the ghost (and also to his mother.) He has made a switch at some point in the middle of this play. Is it because he thought of the ghost as more of a thing at first and now that he’s convinced of his veracity, he switches to a more respectful you? He speaks to his mother with “You” – is that his parental language? Or is there something about being with his mother that means he uses different language with his father?
There’s a lot to explore in just comparing Hamlet with the ghost in Act 1 versus Hamlet with the ghost in Act 3.

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