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How does the language and dramatic action of Act I of Hamlet lead the audience to an awareness of a state that is entrenched in both personal and political conflict?

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Introduction

HOW DOES THE LANGUAGE AND DRAMATIC ACTION OF ACT I OF HAMLET LEAD THE AUDIENCE TO AN AWARENESS OF A STATE THAT IS ENTRENCHED IN BOTH PERSONAL AND POLITICAL CONFLICT? In Act I of Hamlet, many different situations are introduced that will unfold as the play progresses. The first aspect of conflict that arises in the Act is that of the political differences between Denmark and Norway. We learn of this through Horatio, when he admits that the King 'did slay this Fortinbras'. Throughout the first scene the audience get a great sense of tension. The language no only creates the impression of a bitterly cold night, but also ominously foreshadows one of the major themes of the entire play. When Bernardo says 'Long live the king!' it is ironic because the king has just died and the entry of Horatio intensifies the already taut atmosphere. He informs us that King Hamlet has gained much land for his country, Denmark, and that the young Fortinbras is forming an army in order 'to recover those foresaid lands so by his father lost'. There is a lot of tension between the two countries and Fortinbras clearly wishes to avenge his father's death. ...read more.

Middle

This political conflict between the two countries has been extended into a more personal one between the citizens of Denmark. Both Marcellus and Horatio talk of people being very tense as they prepare for war and Horatio talks of the 'post-haste and romage in the land'. The second scene introduces Hamlet and we learn that the play is also a personal tragedy, as Hamlet is mourning the death of his father. The first part of the scene ends in turmoil, as the court departs to celebrate the countries victory, leaving Hamlet alone on the stage. This dramatic contrast is very effective. Hamlet's soliloquy conveys his true feelings, as he laments his sad situation to the audience. The fragmented structure of his speech, which is continuously broken up with speech, reflects Hamlet's tormented state of mind. His use of complicated language, such as 'dexterity' and 'incestuous' emphasises how disgusted he is with his uncle and mother. Hamlet clearly admired his father a great deal and talks of him as an 'excellent king', 'so loving to [his] mother'. He is also dressed in an 'inky cloak', showing that he is still mourning. There is a sense of desperation is Hamlet's soliloquy as he uses phrases, like 'O God!' and 'O fie'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The play on the words 'son' and 'sun', suggests that he doesn't appreciate being called his uncle's son. Claudius urges Hamlet to 'throw to earth this unprevailing woe', and he comes across very insensitive when he tells his nephew that '[his] father lost a father' and 'that father lost, lost his'. He clearly shows know understanding about the grief that Hamlet has and appears very ruthless in that he has obviously already forgotten his brother. The king tells Hamlet that to preserve his sorrows shows 'obstinate condolement' and 'unmanly grief'. He also encourages Hamlet not to return to 'school in Wittenberg', but to remain in Denmark in the 'comfort of [his] eye'. This suggests that Claudius wants to keeps an eye on Hamlet, possibly because he is nervous after recently killing his brother who was also the king. On this suggestion Hamlet responds only to his mother and tells her that he will 'in all [his] best' obey her. This indicates that Hamlet doesn't value his uncle's opinions and dislikes the fact that Claudius feels he has authority over him. During the first Act of the Hamlet, Shakespeare introduces to the audience with an excellent use of language and dramatic action, to the personal and political conflicts that are to dominate the remainder of the play. ...read more.

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