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Discuss Act 1 Scene 1 of Hamlet as a prologue for the rest of the play.

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How can act one scene one of Hamlet be seen as a prologue for the rest of the play? Hamlet does not begin at a light pace or with a trivial introduction to characters and setting. While the first scene does not involve the central characters, it manages to begin the narrative arc of the play immediately. Amidst the inevitable exposition that dominates the first act of the play, scene one contains plot-advancing action: the ghost of Hamlet appears; and, at the very end of the scene, Horatio decides that he should inform Hamlet: Let us impart what we have seen tonight Unto young Hamlet [...] This decision starts a simple chain of events that leads into scene two-which in turn leads into scene three, and so on. Before long, the younger Hamlet has establishes that Claudius murdered his Father, and this information is at the base of everything he thinks, says and does subsequently. ...read more.


Thus, the scene is redundant in that capacity. Furthermore, the scene doesn't really attempt to give much insight into any of the central character. Even the most important of those present, Horatio, is still comparatively minor, serving mostly as an object for Hamlet to talk at. In a series of quick exchanges, Horatio is show to be a brave, in talking to the ghost; a leader amongst his comrades, in taking charge of them and deciding on the best course of action; and loyal to Hamlet, in his immediate impulse to tell him of the phantom. But, given that Horatio is a secondary character, none of this implies that the scene is especially introductory or a separate from the rest of the play. Perhaps if the scene was designed to give palpable hints towards the personality of a central character - such as Hamlet himself - then such an argument could be made. ...read more.


It is an active image: more than just casting a metaphorical shadow over their lives, it will do its part in causing the real destruction. There is an odd merging of imagery - which is supposed to be for the audience alone - and plot-related action. As a result, the characters experience the symbolism for themselves. The parallel purposes of the same bit of action - the appearance of the ghost - create a certain amount of dualism. When Horatio fears the repercussions of the ghost and decides to tell his friend, Hamlet, of its appearance, the scene is participating in a collective whole; at the same time, its imposition on Horatio, Marcellus and Baranardo is part of a metaphor. The scene therefore blurs at the edges. At once, it can be a singular entity representing the whole of the narrative and also a part of that narrative in itself. Just like the ghost, it foreshadows, but it also causes; it affects the lives of the characters individually, but it also sparks off a long and fatalistic tragedy. Whether or not this makes it a 'prologue' is a matter of definition. ...read more.

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