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Hamlet 9


Act one of HAMLET is an excellent introductory act. Shakespeare

establishes atmosphere, by introducing the major characters, the role of the

supernatural, the revenge plot, the love plot, and the contrast of the Fortinbras plot,

as well as Hamlet's fiegned madness. Through his unique writing style,

Shakespeare sets us up for the rest of the story, and captures the reader's attention,

making him want read more.

Shakespeare establishes the atmosphere of the play, in scene I. The

scene takes place in Elsinore, on a platform before the castle. The atmosphere is

one of dark battlements, and nervous sentries, which catches the audiences attention

right away. As the bell tolls twelve on a frosty night, a silent ghost of the late King

Hamlet apperars twice. This provides one of the high points of the scene, along

with this, Shakespeare presents the reader with information, regarding the military

preparations in Denmark. All of this provides for a dark, mysterious atmosphere,

where the reader is wanting to know more. Shakesperare continues to establish

atmosphere in scene III. In this scene, atmosphere of a diferent kind is created.

This scene is a family scene, in which brotherly, and fatherly advice creates an

atmosphere quite different from that of the appearance of the ghost and the

problems of Hamlet and his relatives. This creates an atmosphere of love, and

betrayall, whereby Ophelia is forced to obey her father Polonious, and is told to be

careful with Hamlet, as he is a prince, and will not look to marry just anyone, such

as herself. Shakespeare continues to develop atmosphere throughout the act, and

uses the atmosphere to introduce some of the characters in the play.

Shakespeare introduces some of the major characters in the play, and

leaves lasting impressions of each on the reader. Bernardo, and Francisco are

introduced in the first scene, as officers watching their posts, but it is Horetio that

leaves the greatest impression, as he is described as a well educated scholar, and

seems to have great importance to the development of the play.

In scene II, Claudious, the present King of Denmark is introduced. He is the

uncle of Hamlet, and just so happens to be masrried to Hamlet's mother, creating a

definate first impression. Hamlet is aslo introduced, and the impression perceived

is one of a troubled individual, who is grieving his father's death, and is angry at his

mother for marrying his uncle Claudious. Ophelia, Hamlet's girlfriend, and the

daughter of Polonious is introduced in scene III. She is described as a rather

affectionate, but rather docile individual. All throughout act one, Hamlet's dead

father's ghost keeps appearing, but does not speak until scene five, where it tells

Hamlet to avenge his death, and to kill his uncle Claudious. This describes

Claudious's character, of a cold blooded murderer, and leaves a vivid picture of

what the ghost of King Hamlet, looks like, as a supernatural being. This ploy for

Hamlet to avenge his father's wrongful death, leads into the idea of a revenge plot.

Shakespeare develops several plots in act one of Hamlet. The main three are:

revenge, love, and contrast. The revenge plot is set up by Shakespeare in scene V.

In this scene, Hamlet is made aware for the first time, that his Uncle Claudious is

the murderer of his father, the late King of Denmark. Hamlet swears to avenge his

father's death. He then learns that his mother is married to his uncle, and his

disalusionment becomes even greater. Hamlet desides to confuse his enemy, and

seeks revenge for his late father, thus creating the plot of revenge. The love plot is

introduced through Ophelia, and her feelings for Hamlet. In scene III, Laertes

patronizes Ophelia, warning her to stay away from Hamlet. These warnings against

Hamlet, acquaint the reader with the romantic plot, or love plot. The other aspect of

the love plot, is the relationship of Hamlets mother Gertrude, with his uncle

Claudious. This incestful arrangement creates not only a plot of deceit, but one of

unlawful love and romance, thus contributing to the love plot. The third plot that

Shakespeare introduces in act one, is the contrast of the Fortinbras plot. This is

established on the international scene, with the dispatch of the ambassadors to

Norway, Fortinbras being the prince of Norway. All three plots, revenge, love and

contrast contribute to the depiction of Hamlet's feigned madness

Hamlet's plan to Feign madness creates suspense for the reader. In

scene V, Hamlet finds out that his uncle Claudious is responsible for the murder of

his father. His father's ghost appears and requests that he avenge the evil murder,

and kill Claudious. Hamlet is also informed of the adultery with his uncle and

mother. Hamlet promises to avenge the death of his father, in order to seek

revenge, so that his father may rest in peace. Hamlet becomes extremely angry, and

in a flash, desides to play the madman, in order to confuse his enemy. Hamlet's last

words in scene V illustrate his despair, but he is determined to avenge his father's

death. This creates suspense for the reader, wanting to know what will happen to

Claudious, and how Hamlet will deal with the situation presented. Shakespeare

uses suspense throughout act one as a tool to keep the reader interested in what is to

come, and he does this very effectively.

In act one, Shakespeare combines atmosphere, development of character, plot

structure,and madness, in order to set the stage for the rest of the play to come. Act

one is an excellent introductory act, in that it provides enough information to enable

the audience to understand the situation., and to keep them interested, and wanting

to read more. In five short scenes, Shakespeare introduces seven important

characters, including the ghost of King Hamlet. He has also made the reader aware

of the domestic situation of the royal family, and has made the audience realize that

this is a play of revenge. Shakespeare writes act one of Hamlet in such a way, that

it captures the readers attention, and using the tools of foreshadowing, an suspense,

he makes his audience urge to know and read more.

Source: Essay UK -

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