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The Effectiveness of the Opening to Hamlet

Uploaded by horn on Sep 08, 2001

Hamlet is launched extremely well because there is no long drawn out introduction to the plot. The story begins almost immediately with a brief yet concise 5-scene Act entailing the state of affairs within the Court of Denmark. Each scene contributes to the overall exposition significantly and Act 1 effectively captures the interest of the audience, introduces the key characters, establishes the conflicts and creates and maintains the dominant atmosphere of the play.

In Act 1 – Scene 1, the audience is instantly shocked into interest by the exchange of short, sharp speeches between the very nervous sentries of the castle. What follows is the audience’s discovery of the frequenting appearance of a Ghost and the sentries’ plans to have Horatio, a scholar, attempt to communicate with it. The setting for this scene is atop a castle, resting upon cliffs high above the ocean. It is midnight, creating a more sinister atmosphere, apt for following story and the medieval time period to which it is set. When the ghost finally appears to Horatio and the others, the audience discovers through their inferences that the ghost has a strong likeness to the late King Hamlet of Denmark. The conversation that follows gives the audience a brief understanding of the current situation in Denmark, involving the details of preparations for war and revelations of conflict with Fortinbras of Norway.

Scene 1 therefore serves as part of a good exposition in that it: Captures the interest of the audience with the short stabs of nervous speech between the sentries, It introduces the characters of the Ghost, the sentries (Marcellus, Barnardo, Francesco) and Horatio, It establishes the situation with Fortinbras and the appearances of the mysterious Ghost as points of interest and future conflict, And it contributes through mood and setting to the dominant atmosphere of tragedy within the play.

Scene 2 jumps to within the castle, where the court mourning for King Hamlet has seemingly just finished and the newly appointed King Claudius is apparently making his first address to his nobility. During this gallant speech, the audience becomes informed that Claudius has married Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, rather hastily after King Hamlet’s death – attention is then drawn to Hamlet, still in deep mourning for his father.

He drifts into a soliloquy where he contemplates the act of suicide rather than go on under these “difficult” conditions. After Horatio, backed by 2 others, describe the...

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Uploaded by:   horn

Date:   09/08/2001

Category:   Hamlet

Length:   6 pages (1,265 words)

Views:   1694

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