|Teacher: Mr. Masselli|
Topic: Hamlet notes Dec.12, 2010
Act 1 of Hamlet keeps the main character away from the audience until 75 lines into scene 2. When he does appear he is melancholy, brooding, and sarcastic. He is also brilliant and funny, but unless we keep what he knows up front, it is easy for the audience to reduce him to an unhinged malcontent. Gertrude asks him "Why seems it so particular with thee?" Hamlet tells her that the word "seems" doesn’t apply to him. What he feels goes beyond the "trappings and the suits of woe." He ponders not merely the death of his father, or even the incestuous, hast marriage of his mother to Claudius, but also the fleeting nature of life and love. That his father is so easily forgotten, that passion can so easily dissipate (and this will include his own passion for revenge), makes Hamlet worry that the emptiness in this life might continue in the next.
Hamlet recognizes that no one in Denmark shares his concerns, but when it is revealed that Claudius murdered Hamlet’s father, Hamlet, along with the audience with whom he shares his thoughts, puts Claudius’s behavior into perspective. His smooth address to the Danish court now reeks of the rottenness of lust and ambition, as well as the icy coolness he can muster to hide his foul deeds. As extraordinary as Claudius’s ability to conduct business as usual wearing the Danish crown is the acceptance of his words by all of Denmark. Hamlet is uncomfortable with Claudius before he sees the Ghost, but after the murder is revealed and Claudius’s response to Hamlet becomes more and more desperate, Hamlet is the only character whose behavior is questioned.
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