Hamlet Act I Scene 2



Act I, Scene 2

  • Summary

- Claudius, the new King of Denmark, addresses the court confidently on the occasion of his hasty marriage to Gertrude following the sudden death of his brother, King Hamlet.

- He deals with Young Fortinbras's threatened invasion using diplomacy.

- He grants Laerfe's suit to be allowed to return to France. Laertes is the son of Claudius's first minister, Polonius. 

- Claudius and Gertrude accuse Hamlet of mourning his father excessively and Hamlet is denied permission to return to Wittenburg. 

- Left alone on stage, the grieving Hamlet expresses his melancholy and his contempt for the King and Queen. 

- Horatio, Marcellus and Bernando tell Hamlet about the Ghost. 

  • Claudius Addresses His Court

Shakespeare sets up a contrast between the first two scenes:

- The first scene has a dark, foreboding atmosphere, but in this scene, Shakespeare introduces a brightly lit and seemingly  carefree court- it's even introduced by a "Flourish" (fanfare)

-  This "Flourish" seems inappropriate, given that King Hamlet has only recently died. There's a scene that the court is pretending that everything's normal and is trying to shake off the gloom and anxiety that lay beyond the castle walls in Scene 1. 

  • Shakespeare Reveals Claudius's Character

-  Shakespeare introduces Claudius as an able king but he highlights some major character flaws.

- Claudius convinces the court to accept recent events by juxtaposing his brother's death with his marriage to Gertrude. However,


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