With Reference to the Plays Context, Explore the Techniques Used by Shakespeare to Establish the Mood and Plot of Hamlet in Act One, Scene One?

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Monarchy Pages: 5 (1638 words) Published: April 30, 2008
With reference to the plays context, explore the techniques used by Shakespeare to establish the mood and plot of Hamlet in Act One, Scene One?

In Act One, Scene One “Hamlet”, there are many different techniques used by Shakespeare to establish the mood and plot of the ply. These techniques are used to effectively establish the setting of the play, the weather, and the general mood of the play, which in the context of Hamlet is a tragedy. The play is about Prince Hamlet, he has just returned from University after the death of his father King Hamlet, only to discover that his mother Gertrude has already married- days after his father’s funeral. He is even more distraught in knowing that not only has his mother married again- she’s married his uncle (his father’s brother).

In Shakespearean times, (the 16th -17th century), there were limited special effects, so the actors language was vital to the setting of the play, the plot and the mood, therefore Shakespeare had to use many different techniques so that the audience’s attention was captured and everyone knew what the play was about. There were however some special effects including: smoke used to suggest something supernatural, cannons fired to suggest battles, sponges soaked in animal blood, concealed and squeezed to suggest wounding etc. Smokes could possibly have been used on the stage for Hamlet as there were supernatural things happening in the play.

Most theatres of the time had no roofs; one example of such a theatre is the Globe Theatre in London. The plays would be performed at around 2p.m. in the day, so if the play was set at night, which in the case of Hamlet it was, then the characters had to be the one’s to make this known to the audience. In 16th -17th century theatres there were no sets, so props costumes and dialogue were used to communicate the setting of the play, and the characters identities. The setting of Hamlet in Act One, Scene One is established using dialogue, where Barnardo who has just turn up to relieve Francisco from his guard duty on top of Elsinore castle says to him: “ ’Tis now struck twelve, get thee to bed Francisco”. This effectively establishes the time of day, so that the audience would know that the play was set at night, because of the lack of special effects or artificial lighting to help them determine night from day. Colour symbolism was also used, and highly elaborate costumes would be worn by the actors on stage to suggest nature, profession, sex of the character, and their ranking in society.

Audiences could be very noisy so the opening scenes had to really grab their attention, and any important points would be repeated to establish any crucial information. This is done in Hamlet where the opening scene starts with the question: “Who’s there?” which creates tension, and holds the audience’s attention. In 1600 the monarch on the throne was Queen Elizabeth the first, and at the time the monarchy had the power to decide whether or not a play would go to stage. Playwrights like Shakespeare could have been charged with treason if he used any words or phrases that would offend the monarchy. Playwrights were therefore very careful when writing their plays so that they could not be accused of treason or unsurping the crown.

The monarchy had the power to close theatres, and it was illegal to perform without sponsorship of a member of the nobility. Plays were often made therefore to flatter the monarchy. They were also used to cater to the tastes of their audience, featuring lots of violence, romance and supernatural intrigue. In Hamlet there are scenes of supernatural intrigue especially when the ghost of the deceased King Hamlet appears, but does not speak, so the audience are intrigue as to what is his purpose of returning.

Hamlet is a play with many different contexts, each influenced by things happening at the time it was written. There is a very strong religious context in Hamlet mainly surrounding the...
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