In the case of the ghost known as the Poltergeist, its presence is said to be felt by the noises it makes and by its alleged ability to move small objects around the house, sometimes throwing and breaking them. Finally, there are the stories of ghosts who appear as exact replicas of the deceased, although perhaps paler, thinner and more sickly. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead,
the individuals are thought to appear exactly as they did in life, down to details of their style of dress.
THE WHITE LADY..
In general, ghosts are said to appear as solitary individuals, wandering the earth in a lonely, unhappy existence, unable to rest. They may come back to haunt particular places that they frequented in life, often for a purpose - to tell of a crime that was committed there, or to warn of a future disaster. One such solitary ghost is The White Lady, a legend that appears in many different cultures around the world. This ghost is said to be the troubled spirit of a woman wronged by her husband or finace in life. She is often dressed in Victorian apparel, and usually wearing a long black veil. Seeing her is a very bad portent and may signify the onlooker's imminent death, or the death of some close to them. However, as well as the common solitary ghost, there are also stories of ghosts appearing in dozens or hundreds such as 'phantom armies', ghost ships, and ghost trains.
Ghost ships, in particular, have been a popular theme in folklore since the 18th century, when many sailors died in shipwrecks at sea. A classic tale is that of the Flying Dutchman,
A ship that sails the sea with a ghostly crew, forever condemned to remain out of contact with the living and unable to dock at any port. Legends surrounding the history of the Flying Dutchman vary,
but some allege that a dreadful crime was committed on board and that the crew have been punished by wandering the sea as ghosts. As with the legend of the White Lady, seeing the ship is thought to presage death or disaster.
THE ARMOURED GHOST..
Today, our ideas about how ghosts manifest themselves has been very much influenced by representations of them in art and popular culture. In English Renaissance theatre of the 16th and early 17th century, ghosts were often shown as dressed in armour - perhaps the most famous example of this is the ghost of Hamlet's Father, who appears dressed in full battle regalia. However, there were problems with this, since the armoured ghosts tended to make a terrible clanking noise on stage and instead of frightening the audience, often reduced them to fits of laughter. By the 19th century, the armoured ghost had become a cliche and directors had begun to solve this problem by emphasising the 'invisibility' of the ghost, draping them in sheers so that they could move about the stage lightly. This was a complete departure from the traditional image of the Renaissance ghost, as well as from stage ghosts of the classical Greek Roman era.
SPOOKY GHOSTS..For a time, it seemed that audiences were satisfied with the new spooky ghosts flitting about draped in sheets, or diaphanous clothing. However, it was not long before the sheeted ghosts, too, became a figure of fun. This problem, too, was eventually solved using modern lighting effects and make-up technique's, both on stage and on screen. Today, these special effects have become extremely sophisticated, requiring a high degree of skill, so that ghosts are now far more realistic than their predecessors.