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"Shakespeare skilfully weaves political and personal themes an issues ion the opening act of the play", "Shakespeare's aim in Act 1 is to establish Hamlet firmly as the pivotal character in the play" What do you see as the importance of Act 1?

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Introduction

"Shakespeare skilfully weaves political and personal themes an issues ion the opening act of the play" "Shakespeare's aim in Act 1 is to establish Hamlet firmly as the pivotal character in the play" What do you see as the importance of Act 1? Shakespeare does use Act 1 to introduce some important political and personal issues and themes to the audience. It is important that these are established in the first act so that the audience are aware not only of the political state of Denmark but also the state of the personal affairs of the main characters of the play. There is a lot of evidence to support this first statement concerning political themes and issues. The state of Denmark is immediately established as an unhealthy political body. This is commented upon by many characters, either directly 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark' or as part of a general feeling of unwell 'I am sick at heart.' This theme of political malaise is also shown through the behaviour of the King and Queen. According to Hamlet, they drink so much that other countries 'clepe [them] drunkards.' ...read more.

Middle

This could be because they know the intensity of it as her father talks about 'when the blood burns' and 'blazes.' It could be because Hamlet is a unpredictable character 'a puffed and reckless libertine' and heir to the throne, and Ophelia is somewhat na�ve 'you speak like a green girl' and therefore susceptible to him. It raises the issue and theme of love but at the same time tragedy as it appears doomed from the beginning. Another destructive relationship we see in Act 1 is that between Claudius and Gertrude. Together they are a pair of traitors, Hamlet calls Gertrude 'o most pernicious woman' and Claudius is referred to, by Old Hamlet as 'that incestuous, that adulterous beast.' Through their relationship the theme of betrayal is portrayed as they have both betrayed Old Hamlet by murdering him and through 'damned incest.' As a result of this we learn of Hamlet's broken relationship with his mother and the forced, false relationship with Claudius which reflects the on-going theme of appearance versus reality. There is also the personal issue of brotherly betrayal and going against nature, as it is described as 'unnatural,' which is reminiscent of the biblical story of Cane and Abel. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is to reflect Hamlet as being alone in his grief and mourning for his father which also raises the issue of family relationships. The fact that he is the true heir to the throne, and the rightful King of Denmark now that his father is dead, also puts Hamlet at the forefront of the play He is automatically in the centre of many themes that surround this issue of betrayal and revenge. Many relationships centre around Hamlet as well, as depicted in the earlier argument, and sub plots arise from this, for example the 'forbidden love' of Hamlet and Ophelia. I think the importance of Act 1 is summarised by both these statements. Political and personal themes and issues are raised and affirmed and so is the character of Hamlet. Shakespeare does this to introduce the tragic tone of the play and introduce important issues and themes. The main plot of revenge is also established in Act 1, as are the sub plots like the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet and the threat of war or attack from Fortinbras. Characters are established and now that the audience are aware of all this, they are able to follow the action that ensues in the remainder of the play. ...read more.

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