Dramatic Tension In "Hamlet" Essay

695 words - 3 pages

Act One, Scene One opens in pitch darkness of the battlements of the castle of Elsinore: two guards, Barnardo and Fransico, evidently keep watch in a state of some anxiety which is immediately apparent in the edginess of their nervous questioning of each other's presence: “Who's there?”, “Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.” Tension is created in this terse exchange: as a sense of fear should be evoked in the audience of a potentially imminent attack from a yet undisclosed source. Furthermore, Barnardo orders Fransisco to return home upon midnight, in his reminder that: “'Tis now struck twelve. ” Midnight plays an important role in many texts in signifing the beginning of supernatural activities, which essentially warn the audience that a possible supernatural event is to ensue.

Obscurity plays an important role in shaping the mood of the opening scene: the fog is so dense that each new character finds it hard to identify each other, so that consequently all approaching figures are yet again questioned over their identity. Thus, upon the arrival of Marcellus and Horatio, the guards begin to unfold strange rumours of a “thing” which has not been mentioned before. Marcellus in due course identifies the “thing” as a ghost whereupon tension is further created in the suggestion of a supernatural character, who, combined with the setting and time period duly prepares the audience for the entrance of such a presence.

When the ghost finally does enter, Barnardo damatically exclaims: “In the same figure like the king that’s dead.” At such an early point in the play the audience is still unaware of the circumstances which gave rise to the death of the old king and the appointment of his successor.. Although there are no stage directions, it is assumed from Barnardo's line: “It would be spoke to.” that the ghost is making a gesture of some sort for a guard to come to him. It has not yet been made clear whether the ghost has good or bad intentions, and as a result of...

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