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Essay/Term paper: Hamlet: essay on act i

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Hamlet

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Hamlet: Essay On Act I


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.

 

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