Hamlet, one of the most famous literary pieces worldwide, is also recognized as a distinguished work of art.
One aspect that contributes to the prestige of this play is how the story unfolds. Throughout history, Shakespeare has been known for crafting exceptional opening scenes for his plays. Analyzing Act 1, Scene 1 of Hamlet allows the reader to gain a clear understanding of future events. This scene effectively establishes a powerful mood, provides vital background information, and introduces key characters. By utilizing this knowledge, it is evident how Shakespeare skillfully creates timeless stories.
In Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1 is crucial for comprehending the play as it plays a significant role in establishing the mood. The scene begins with a prevalent sense of distrust and uncertainty. Initially, as the main characters gather outside the castle, they cautiously inquire about each other’s identities.
From the beginning, there is a sense of anticipation, as everyone appears on edge. Another indication of wariness and caution is the dark night, chilling air, and references to “the bitter cold” made by the characters (p. 9, ln. 8). This creates an atmosphere of foreboding and mystery. At one moment, Fransisco gratefully concludes his watch because he is “sick at heart” (p.9, ln. 10).
Once the atmosphere is established, a ghost appears, causing a feeling of fear and unease. The men are terrified and worried about encountering the ghost again. Furthermore, death and supernatural elements are introduced. Although it is believed that the ghost belongs to the deceased king, there is also a chance that it might be a demon pretending to be the king. Shakespeare employs the return of a silent ghost as an important dramatic tool to grab attention and set the tone for the entire story. Through these different aspects, Shakespeare successfully creates a unique mood for the rest of the play.
The opening scene of Hamlet serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it sets the mood for the story. Additionally, it provides crucial background information. The men discuss whether the ghost is the dead king, implying that there is a situation to be resolved and a reason for the king to return from the grave. Their conversation reveals that a battle has occurred, resulting in the king’s death. The line “Such was the very armor he had on when he the ambitious Norway combated” introduces the conflict between Denmark and Norway. Dialogue also reveals that military preparations are underway at Elsinore, as Fortinbras plans to reclaim the Norwegian lands lost by his father to King Hamlet.
“So nightly toils the subject of the land, and why such daily blast of brazen cannon, and foreign mart for implements of war…”(p13, ln71)
indicates that Denmark is actively preparing for the war happening within its borders. This scene also reveals insights about the people of Denmark; they exhibit strong superstitions and fear the unknown. It is evident that they are deeply interconnected as well: when Bernardo and Marcellus claim to have seen a ghost, they feel compelled to inform Horatio.
The three men decide to inform Hamlet about witnessing the ghost, indicating familiarity between the characters and potentially among the city’s residents. Act 1, Scene 1 of Hamlet provides valuable background information and introduces some recurring characters. Marcellus and Bernardo are initially introduced, although they have minor roles in the story, they offer background information.
In the absence of the ghost, it can be speculated that there would be no story. When Horatio and Marcellus discuss the war, readers are also introduced to Fortinbras, who opposes the king. Horatio characterizes young Fortinbras as passionate and ambitious but lacking experience. Despite being deceased, King Hamlet is an important figure mentioned.
Introduced in Act 1 Scene 1, Horatio is an important figure who serves as Prince Hamlet’s loyal friend and confidant. Upon discovering the existence of the ghost, Horatio believes Hamlet should be informed about their encounter, thus initiating the plot. Additionally, Horatio’s extensive knowledge and intelligence can be deduced from his depiction of Julius Caesar and the era of ancient Rome.
Horatio possesses a vast knowledge and deep awareness of his surroundings. Towards the end of the scene, Prince Hamlet’s presence is mentioned, even though he is not physically present. By analyzing Hamlet, it becomes evident that this tale is timeless, combining elements of mystery, drama, and occasional humor. To attain such greatness, the author must adhere to certain criteria. Throughout history, Shakespeare was celebrated for crafting captivating opening scenes in his plays. Through these exceptional introductions, the reader is introduced to numerous significant elements.
Mood, background data, and characters are crucial elements of the play that are portrayed in the initial scene alone. Having this information equips the reader with the necessary tools to comprehend and admire the incredible events that lie ahead.