• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How effectively does Shakespeare introduce the characters and themes of 'Hamlet'?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How effectively does Shakespeare introduce the characters and themes of 'Hamlet'? By Phillip Preston 12.8 'Hamlet', written by William Shakespeare around 1600 is one of his most famous and popular plays. Hamlet as a character is created as a complex man who is struggling with powers and plots beyond his ability to control in an effort to seek justice. In the early part of the play, Shakespeare creates some of the themes and introduces the main characters that shall continue throughout it, including Hamlet himself and his Uncle Claudius. Hamlet knows that there was something suspicious concerning the death of his father, and he strongly dislikes his uncle who married his brother's widow and became King. Whilst Hamlet in the opening scenes does not outrightly accuse his Uncle of killing his father, the dislike is evident to the audience and this constitutes one of the main themes - appearance versus reality otherwise known as hypocrisy. Act I, Scene II creates this theme when Claudius and Hamlet are introduced to each other. The first thing that Hamlet says is 'A little more than kin, and less than kind!'. This aside is destroying the image that Claudius is trying to create - that Hamlet is his son. The pun, playing on the word 'kind' meaning offspring, is displaying Hamlet's ready wit and intelligence. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, in the first scene, Shakespeare has managed to introduce two themes through dramatic, structural and linguistic techniques. The themes that are introduced are very dramatic and have a large effect upon the audience since what they represent is that something very bad is about to happen, and this creates tension. This is built upon by the relationship between Claudius and Hamlet in scene II, and whilst it is good to have tension, it is not a pleasant experience for the audience since they start to fear for characters they have sympathy for. And an audience may at this stage of the play have sympathy for Claudius. Bertram Joseph says that 'when the play begins, there is no indication that Claudius is a villain'. This is true, and the audience can in scene II sympathise with his character. What the audience sees is the very image that Claudius is presenting to his court as a new king, and so he must come across as pleasant and strong. This he does and the audience empathises with him, more so when they see Hamlet and his attitude towards him. They feel sorry for Claudius as what they see is him trying to be conciliatory towards Hamlet, declaring him a son, and making an effort to be nice only to have it thrown back at him, from what the audience perceives as a rebellious teenager. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is something that is not easy to do, and as such needs a very powerful character to be able to do so. The opening scenes, and indeed the act, are all used by Shakespeare to create his main characters and themes that will continue throughout the play. Some of these themes are very evident, yet Shakespeare subtly creates others by the development of the original, such as danger from the sense of disorder in the first scene. This layering of themes, and therefore emotions, is incredibly effective since it draws the audience into the play, allowing them to empathise with the characters on a higher level. The two main characters - Hamlet and Claudius, are also created very effectively. Shakespeare uses them to play off each other and create two 'false' characters and opinions about each one. This is very skilful, but as examined, the portrayal of Hamlet's double personality is not as good as Claudius', and so it decreases the impact of his entrance into the play. Later on though, when he is developed, it becomes evident that he is a person who is the protagonist to Claudius' antagonistic ways. This means two very powerful men have been created, ones that the audience can both fear and respect, yet sympathise with at the same time. By doing this, the effectiveness of the play as a whole is increased vastly. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Hamlet essays

  1. Explore the themes and techniques of the Nunnery scene in Hamlet

    This is a blatant indication that Hamlet is not ignorant about Ophelia's apparent deceit and soon asks her where her father is, indicating that he suspects that he is pulling her strings. Hamlet also states that he does not love her which leads Ophelia to say that she has been deceived by him.

  2. Analyse and evaluate Shakespeare(TM)s use of soliloquy in presenting the developing character of Hamlet.

    The dominant cause of Hamlet's grief is his mother re-marrying. He is disgusted that his mother has moved on so quickly and he believes the relationship is incestuous. "With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not, nor it cannot come to good.

  1. Discuss and explore the themes and techniques of the Nunnery scene(TM) in Hamlet(TM)

    it is possible that he is aware of Claudius and Polonius' presence in the room and is simply going along with their theory of his madness by denying the fact that he ever gave Ophelia gifts in the first place. If so, this is a canny move to disorientate them.

  2. Direct Actor Playing Macbeth

    he should raise his voice - as he would have no control over himself at this point. All of the things that Macbeth says from lines 21-44, (these are the parts when he tells Lady Macbeth what he thinks he heard)

  1. How effectively does Shakespeare introduce key themes and characters in Act 1 of hamlet?

    The opening line of the play also sets another tone, which continues throughout the centre of the Hamlet, 'Who's there?' sets a tone of uncertainty and anxiousness. This anxiously questioning theme represents the search for personal identity that is concealed by outward appearance.

  2. With close reference to language examine how fitting a close Act 5 scene ii ...

    Hamlet respects Horatio's balanced nature, and it is probably this balance that assures him that Horatio is someone who can be trusted and in whim he can confide. Hamlet tells him that he "wouldst not think how ill alls' here about my heart;" and the uncertainties he feels about the duel.

  1. In order to show that Act 5 scene ii, is a fitting close to ...

    And in Act 5, scene ii, 208 he says "Let be." Osric's main function in the play is to invite Hamlet to a fencing match against Laertes. He fulfils this function, but in a very dramatic manner.

  2. Explore some of the ways in which Shakespeare creates a sense of disorder in ...

    "As I do live, my honor'd lord, 'tis true." Horatio is shown to be skeptical about Bernardo and Francisco?s sighting, and is convinced only by the actual sight of the ghost. Hamlet seems reluctant to believe that Horatio and the others have seen it and so to convince him, Horatio

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work