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What are the major themes established in the first two acts of Hamlet?

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Introduction

What are the major themes established in the first two acts of Hamlet? The themes of Hamlet that are established in the first two acts are typical of many revenge tragedies throughout history, all of which are dark and dismal including madness, corruption, deception and of course revenge. Vengeance is a theme that has fuelled an array of plays from ancient Rome to the era of Shakespeare and beyond. By the time Shakespeare had come to write Hamlet, he had written several tragedies, and revenge tragedies themselves had developed a certain 'frame work' of components. The reason that the revenge would be needed would often stem from a ghost, in this case Hamlets farther, revealing to the prospective revenge hero how he had come to a gruesome end through a fratricide treachery and calling upon him to 'Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.' There was certain to be a procrastination- what else would the play consist of, and several counter-plots. In Hamlet these counter plots emphasise Hamlet's un-willingness to act with the same livid, lust for revenge that is expected in revenge tragedies, and is shown in Hamlet by the Young Fortenbrias, and his war mongering to avenge his own father. ...read more.

Middle

He does not wish to rush into his revenge as most revenge heroes instead he contemplates the consequences if he acts, could a man that is truly insane be so judicious. There are also suggestions in the text that Hamlet's mind is in an uncertain sate, in Act II scene 2 he is impressed by the stimulated 'passion' of the first player, and yet he tells the players in his own play that the 'must acquire and beget a temperance', and not to over act. This same speech in Act II scene 2 leaves Hamlet feeling inadequate, and in it he also admits that his own conscience calls his a 'villain' and tortures him for not acting. Hamlets own indecision about his state of mind in these first two acts, can echo upon the feelings of the audience, which reinforces their confusion about his character and also makes it hard to 'define true madness.' Hamlet is not the only one misleading some of the characters in the play. There seems to be a pattern amongst the main characters of deception, weather it is to others or themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Something is rotten in the state of Demark' through out the entirety on this play and this theme of corruption adds yet another twist. It is the other themes of the play that provide the corruption, vengeance is a sin which was seen by this deeply religious era to be something that only god should carry out. It is also not right that the man who killed the former king is now the king himself. There is 'corruption' in Demark as there is 'corruption' at the head. The royal family who are supposed to set a precedent of the entire nation are murdering, lying and seeking vengeance upon one another. There is no one character in the play that is void of corruption, Hamlet's fake madness, Claudius's murder and deceit, Gertrude's guilt and in hamlets opinion betrayal of her former husband, even smaller characters such as Rosencraz and Guildenstern who are spying on their friend. It is perhaps only Horatio who show a true good character, as he is loyal to Hamlet with out actually acting against the king. Shakespeare intricately intertwines the plays themes in a plot that appears in the first two acts to be spiralling ever downwards. Fiona Wood, Hamlet, Mr Arthur Fiona Wood, Hamlet, Mr Arthur. ...read more.

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