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How does Shakespeare create an effective opening to Hamlet?

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How does Shakespeare create an effective opening to Hamlet? The key purpose with the opening of any piece of literature is to entice and enthral the reader and obviously Shakespeare having the fame and staggering success that he has had, must be well aware of this. If questions are left in the readers mind once reading the opening to this script or watching the play, they engage the audience as they want these questions answered and believe that as the play unfolds they will be. The attitudes and values of the characters that are introduced in the first act contribute greatly to the sense of suspense the audience feels. Shakespeare begins the play with the entry of two minor characters 'two Sentinels'. By doing this the audience only get a second hand taste of what the key themes are going to be later on in the play. There is no omniscient feel to this first act, only an air of mystery. ...read more.


Carrying on from this the setting in which this first scene is set also adds to the sense of unknowing and mystery. The scene is set outside the castle of Elsinore on a gun-platform; this suggests to the audience even at this early stage that war or battles will be present later on in the play as castles are built solely for the purposes of protect in conflict. It is also dark and night, this adds to the fear of the sentinels as they cannot see who it is that approaches them. This is clear with the opening line 'Who's there?' spoken by Barnardo. Furthermore perhaps the dark night setting is intentional pathetic fallacy by Shakespeare, as the characters and even the audiences' unknowing towards the Ghost is mirrored by the way in which the characters cannot see clearly and have to ask of who approaches them. This pathetic fallacy is carried on into the ending of the scene, as the cock crows and it becomes morning the sense of fear leaves the sentinels, this is shown with the semantic fields used in their speech, of 'love' and 'life'. ...read more.


This first scene finishes with Horatio and the guards going to impart their news of the Ghost onto 'young Hamlet'. This shows a great respect for Hamlet, it also implies that Hamlet is the King as the audience have previously been told that 'Old King Hamlet' has died. This is rather ironic as later the audience come to find out that in fact it is young Hamlet's uncle that is now become King through an unconventional marriage. So putting this into perspective this could imply that some subjects, such as Horatio slightly resent the marriage of the Queen to Hamlets uncle. I conclude that this is an extremely effective opening written by Shakespeare as it constantly engages the audience, and makes the audience feel a need to know more of what the play is about. Intro 1para (this one) on characters DONE 1 para on setting DONE 1 para on themes introduced... war, death, and mentions old king hamlet-suggesting he has only died recently as still fresh in minds. 1 para on lang n dramatic techniques Conc ...read more.

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