Explore the ways Shakespeare creates tension in the opening two scenes
Shakespeare creates a lot of tension in the opening two scenes, by starting act one, scene one, with short sentences and questions, such as, “Who’s there?” So the audience can tell that the characters are feeling edgy about something at the start. These short sentences carry on until line 20, it gets the audience involved from the start, you’re straight into the play, and there is no big introduction.
It begins the play at midnight when it is very cold, which it itself is very spooky and is like the witching hour “Tis now struck twelve.” “Tis bitter cold.”
The characters start to talk about a ghost that they’ve seen, and you can sense fear from them “touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us”
Once the ghost enters there is a lot of tension, especially as the ghost doesn’t speak, which makes it even more spooky. The ghost creates mystery for the audience. The ghost says nothing despite the valiant efforts on the parts of Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo. Suspense is created when the audience are ignorant as to the purpose of the ghost.
The tension carries on all the way through the first scene. With the audience being able to see the ghost, but not being able to hear it.
This is a preview of the whole essay
In scene two there is a lot of tension going on between the family. Hamlet dislikes his mother and claudius.
Claudius is the first one to talk in the scene, trying to the get in there first and get the other characters on his side, by taking about his “dear brother’s death” though everyone can tell he’s a fake and he is putting it all on. He thanks everyone for the support, for this hard time “for all our thanks” hes trying his best to look calm.
Hamlet doesn’t act involved when the king is speaking, so the king ask him “how is that the clouds still hang on you” basically asking, why are you so miserable. Hamlet replies saying hes very happy “I am too much in the sun” but the audience and characters can both tell that he isn’t so his mother wanting him to get over the death of his father says “cast thy nighted colour off” and that its only nature “all that lives must die.” It seems suspicious coming from the mother, as this is her husband everyone is talking about, and you’d expect her to be more upset, and understanding with hamlet.
Claudius says just to top the tension of “your father lost a father, that father lost, lost his” he just wants him to get a grip, and be happy for him and the queen.
In the middle of scene 2, hamlet says a soliloquy. The purpose of this soliloquy is to outline his thoughts and feelings at this point in the play. He reveals his innermost secrets and its an unbiased perspective as its just the hamlet talking to the audience (but not directly) and not to any other charcter who may cause hamlet to withold his true opinions.
Therefore, it is essential to the play as it highlights his inner conflict caused by the events of the play. It reveals his true feelings and as such emphasises the difference between his public appearance, his attitude towards Claudius in the previous scene is less confrontational than here.
Hamlet's despair is his mother’s marriage to his uncle. His constant repetition of the time in which it took the two to get married, "But two months dead...yet within a month...A little month...Within a month...most wicked speed", suggests his disgust at the situation and that it is not necessarily the nature of their "incestuous" relationship that troubles Hamlet, more the short time in which it occurred.
In this soliloquy, we also learn about Hamlet's adoration of his father and how this serves to emphasise the scorn that he shows towards his mother. Hamlet communicates that his father was a divine, almost 'god-like' character, "so excellent a king", who was "so loving to my mother". He also illustrates the contrast between the new king and the old and as such his mother's choice, "Hyperion to a satyr". This example of extreme contrast increases the importance of Hamlet's father and yet also makes a mockery of Claudius' character, the audience see this as strong and domineering. He thought of his dad as the bees-knees and can’t beilieve that his mothers feelings would change so quick, she depended on him, yet now its like he never existed. He says how she barely even cared “o god, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer” so an animal would have mourned for longer than she did.
He really puts it all into perspective when he says “married with my uncle –
My father’s brother” its like it still hasn’t hit him.
When Hamlet says, "Frailty, thy name is woman", he is blaming the entire female race. The actions of his mother have lead him to believe that all women are capable of acting in this "wicked" way and that all women are weak.
The distressed nature of Hamlet's mind is also shown well by the imagery that is used throughout the soliloquy. At the start, Hamlet says that he wants his "too too solid flesh" to "...melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew". This goes alongside the later lines, "How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world", where the build up of adjectives, one after the other, serves to highlight just how difficult it is for Hamlet to live in the world. It is as if Hamlet cannot deal with or stand the physical side of life anymore. He needs to get rid of his body to be able to deal with the inner conflict going on in his head. The poetry of these lines and the image that is shown serve to reveal not only the tragic nature of his problem, also highlighted by his thoughts to suicide, but also create a link between him and the audience.
Another good example of imagery in the soliloquy is that of the "unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank...in nature". This image represents something that used to be nice and now is "gross". The language of the description also emphasises this as it suggests images of things that are unprofitable and nasty.
At the end he talks about how he cant say anything to anyone and its best to keep quiet, “but break my heart, for I must hold my tongue” this shows he is really hurt by all this, but he cant do anything about it.