William Shakespeare's Hamlet
'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. Hamlet is telling the audience
that he feels bitter towards Claudius' claims and that he is not
pleased with what Claudius is trying to do. He is therefore showing
the reality behind the appearance that Claudius is attempting to
create. Shakespeare introduces this theme very effectively, as it is
not only portraying the feelings of the two main characters, but it is
also clear and immediately sets up tension between the two and this
theatrical device is very useful in keeping the audience captivated.
This theme can also be called deception, and when related to Claudius
and Hamlet this seems more appropriate in this scene, since each, more
so Hamlet, is covering their true feelings for each other. The
audience sees evidence of this with Hamlet's nature towards his uncle.
The line 'I shall in all my best, madam' is evidence of his dislike.
He is agreeing with his mother, about staying in Denmark rather than
returning to Wittenburg, whom he loves and he displays it so obviously
as to snub his uncle, whom he dislikes, but at the same time is
deceptive about his true feelings for Claudius. The body language of
the actor however, would make it clear to the audience that he didn't
like him. Indeed, the audience may get the feeling that Claudius does
not like Hamlet either, as he is a threat to his power, but conceals
this dislike for the sake of his wife, who would be horrified. This is
brought across by Claudius' continual referral to Hamlet as his son,
which he knows that he does not like, and so does so to anger him.
This insensitivity and insult is again...