How is the ghost presented in Act One ofShakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’? What impact would it have had on its original audience?

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How is the ghost presented in Act One of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’? What impact would it have had on its original audience?

      Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ is a tragic story about love, death and hatred. In order to see what impact the ghost would have had on its original audience we have to look at a number of aspects such as, the language, the physical appearance of the ghost, the structure of the act and an understanding of the ghost’s own words.

      The play ‘Hamlet’ is a 19th century tale. It’s about the King of Denmark who dies and comes back as a spirit. During this time his wife, Gertrude (who is queen of Denmark), goes and gets married to the King’s brother Claudius.

Hamlet, who is their son, reacts badly to their marriage because he still hasn’t got over his father’s death. This leads to tension and ends in a tragic way.

      If this play was to be shown to a modern audience today, then they would or might have a completely different reaction to the original audience depending on their beliefs. The original audience seeing a ghost seeing a ghost would have made them think that there might be a secret to be revealed or the ghost might have unfinished business.

      At the beginning of Act One Scene One Shakespeare has started off with minor characters because he doesn’t want to have a huge impact on the audience and this also helps to build tension. If Shakespeare had started off with major characters then there wouldn’t have been a build up of tension and therefore the impact on the audience wouldn’t be as exciting or as realistic as if starting off with minor characters.

      Shakespeare describes the ghost’s physical appearance before the ghost actually appears. This is because Shakespeare wants to create an image of the ghost’s physical appearance in the audiences’ minds, so that when the ghost does come on, they will be aware of its physical appearance.

      The ghost’s physical appearance is described in a number of places during the first scene. Horatio, who is Hamlet’s friend, describes the ghost as “fair and warlike form.” When Horatio says, “warlike form,” this shows the audience that the ghost is wearing armour which symbolizes war. In this case it might be because the ghost has come back for revenge or he has got some unfinished business. Barnardo who is also a guard, describes the figure of the ghost as “the same figure, like the king’s that dead.” Here the audience get two pieces of information. First of all they find out that the ghost is the king and secondly that it is the spirit of the dead king which means that it is Hamlet’s father.

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     In the Zefferelli version of ‘Hamlet’, they miss out the first scene and start with a completely different setting. In the script the setting is outside on a dark night outside the palace with the guards on watch. But in the Zefferelli version it starts off with the King’s funeral maybe because he wants the audience to be aware of the King’s death and maybe a sign to show that he might come up again during the play. Meaning that if Zefferelli wanted to, then he could have missed the King’s funeral out, but he didn’t because it’s ...

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