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Evaluate the effectiveness of scene 1 in Hamlet, as an opening to the play

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Evaluate the effectiveness of scene 1 in Hamlet, as an opening to the play The play Hamlet was written in 1601 by William Shakespeare and is possibly one of the most popular revenge tragedies of all time. Hamlet strongly follows the conventions used in most revenge tragedies and consists of a secret murder, ghost visitation, plotting, madness, violence and catastrophe. However, Shakespeare makes Hamlet distinctive by diverting it from the typical revenge tragedy tradition and asking lots of moral and ethical questions. The story consists of the murder of Hamlet's father, King Hamlet by his brother Claudius, who after killing his brother marries his brother's wife Gertrude and takes the throne. The play then follows Hamlet trying to prove his uncle's crime and getting his revenge on him. During Elizabethan times, revenge tragedies were incredibly common and many people would go to watch them in the theatre. As Hamlet is a play, and was first seen on a stage it would have had to have been dramatic and exciting to entice the audience. In Elizabethan theatre, there was generally just a bare stage with no props, or artificial lighting. There were also no female actors and all plays would have been performed in the daytime. Therefore, it is important for the opening scene of Hamlet to be effective as although the play starts at midnight, it would have been performed in broad daylight. ...read more.


Shakespeare uncovers the tale of Hamlet and Denmark in a very efficient fashion, made original with his use of poetry which aids the lengthy speeches to flow along effectively. When Marcellus begins to interrogate Horatio and Bernardo about why it seems as though the state is preparing for war, Shakespeare keeps the mystery in the atmosphere thick by the use of questions such as "Why such impress shipwrights whose sore task/Does not divide the Sunday from the week?" and "What might be toward, that this sweaty haste/Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day?". These questions are then used to inform the audience of past events, as Horatio begins to recite the tale of the battle between Fortinbras and King Hamlet. This is a very clever technique used by William Shakespeare as it is essential for an introductory scene to provide the audience with some background and history. History as well as superstition, myths and legend play a massive role in making the opening scene effective and interesting. Horatio tells his companions that when Julius Caesar the emperor of Rome died, the "graves stood tenantless" and there were "dews of blood" and "disasters in the sun" signifying that the natural world was in disarray after the fall of the Roman leader. The word "blood" creates a disturbing image in the audiences mind as a drop of dew is meant to be a pure and serene wonder of nature and describing it as being bloody is slightly distressing. ...read more.


Overall, I think that the introductory scene of Hamlet is very effective because Shakespeare uses many different techniques to entice his audience and to make us believe in the play. I also think that the play would have made great theatre as there is are many dramatic events in the first scene and it introduces the storyline in an extremely stimulating manner. On the other hand, some people and in particular modern audiences would have some concerns about the effectiveness of the opening scene. In fact, many popular versions of Hamlet have left out the opening scene. Moreover, concentration is a characteristic that most of us today lack, which is why we find some of the more lengthy speeches in Hamlet, incredibly tedious. An Elizabethan audience would have needed some of the lengthy speeches, detailed descriptions and vivid language to create a clear image in their mind, as they wouldn't have had scenery or lighting to aid their imagination. An audience of today find some of the language in Hamlet to difficult to comprehend as the play is written in poetry, and we are not used to listening to poetic dialogue. Also, in Elizabethan times, everyone went to the theatre and it was a very popular pastime equivalent to television, whereas we are not as accustomed to seeing things being performed on stage. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Coursework March 2008 Neha Solanki 10AL ...read more.

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