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How is the mood (atmosphere) created in the opening scenes of Hamlet and what key themes are established? How does The Revengers Tragedy illuminate your understanding of the core text?

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Introduction

How is the mood (atmosphere) created in the opening scenes of ?Hamlet? and what key themes are established? How does ?The Revenger?s Tragedy? illuminate your understanding of the core text? Some of the most important devices used by Shakespeare to establish mood and they key themes of ?Hamlet? can be found within the opening scenes of the play. Even the setting of Act 1, Scene 1, upon the battlements at Elsinore castle, gives the audience an idea of the militaristic nation in which the play is set and further alludes to the idea of political turbulence within the play. The opening half-line of ?who?s there?? spoken by Barnardo, challenges Francisco, which is contrary to military practice (Francisco should challenge him) and this error further indicates the nervous atmosphere surrounding the scene. The half-line suggest uncertainty and mystery, and as Barnardo continues to say ??Tis now struck twelve? it is clear that Shakespeare has gone to every effort in order to create a setting which transmits to the audience through time and place an atmosphere of suspense. The audience knows that something is untoward as Marcellus asks ?What, has that thing appeared tonight??, and as the ghost of Hamlet?s father enters it must surely have been an electrifying moment in the theatre for a Shakespearian audience. ...read more.

Middle

Both protagonists are also in direct opposition to the establishment and can be seen as the ?underdog?, a position which creates an element of sympathy from the audience and can be used by the authors to portray the protagonists as figures of moral standing of higher prestige than that of the established courts, however as the play continues the endless pursuit of revenge will inevitably colour the audience?s views of the two main characters. The fact that all characters present in the opening scene of ?Hamlet? agree to seeing the ghostly figure helps Shakespeare establish one of the key themes of the play; appearance and reality. The audience had undergone a process of distinguishing between truth and illusion by listening to the arguments about the ghost, but as he appears, their investigative tendencies are approved of, which encourages further questioning to take place throughout the play, helping Shakespeare to get his audience to question the authority figures within the court. Unlike in ?The Revenger?s Tragedy?, the audience must wait until the second scene of ?Hamlet? to be introduced to the protagonist. The opening speech by Claudius gives him an air of political astuteness required of a monarch. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Hamlet responds to the Queen?s request for him to stay in Denmark and not leave for Wittenberg, he replies with the pronoun ?you?, instead of ?thou?, a subtle adjustment by Shakespeare which shows Hamlet?s current state of relations with his mother, in that he would rather address her formally rather than as if they were close family members. Alternatively, he may have chosen this choice of pronoun in order to show respect to the Queen. The soliloquy from Hamlet which follows the King and Queen?s exit is strongly emotional and more fragmented than Claudius?s, showing that it is less rehearsed and founded more on his raw emotions, giving a sign to the audience that his speech can be more trusted. It is similar to that of Vindice?s in ?The Revenger?s Tragedy?, another comparison which demonstrates the effectiveness of soliloquies in enabling the audience to achieve a great understanding of the characters? motives. As Hamlet says ??Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature? he is alluding to his current views on the state of Denmark. His comparison via classical allusions of Claudius and his father as ?that was to this Hyperion to a satyr? shows further his contempt for Claudius? abilities as king, and further demonstrates Hamlet?s scholarly abilities. ...read more.

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