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Word Count: 971

Hamish Thomson HD05

In the first two acts of the play, how does Shakespeare use imagery to guide the responses of the audience? Imagery; it tells an audience what they need to know, and also subtly directs them to how they should feel about the subject. The imagery of Shakespeares Hamlet is memorable due to the flamboyance of the language used, and the lasting impressions are what make the audience favour one character over another. Claudius becomes the lasting villain of the play, where Hamlet is shown to be the one victimised throughout the play. Claudius the king is introduced in the second scene, where he puts on a show of holding the country together and making good leadership decisions. However this brief shining moment is shown to be a faade to impress the court of the unweeded garden that is Denmark, for he quickly turns selfish. Trivialising death, he enquires how it is that the clouds still hang on [Hamlet], despite him having only about one sixth of the traditional grieving period for his father. Hamlet replies that he is too much in the sun, making a pun on the weather, saying that he considers himself superior to the king, and rejecting the claim that now he is Claudiuss son. The metaphors imbedded in the sentence are complex, but the imagery here conveys the simplest message that the audience needs to see: Hamlet is trying to cope, yet fails at not letting the negativity take over. This is shown to be true in his soliloquy, as he wishes that his too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew meaning he wishes he could escape his predicament in any way possible. The imagery of dissolving insinuates that he wishes he was as small as something like salt and could just disappear. The sympathy is created for Hamlet here as he is being victimised, and the reasons to dislike the king begin to compound throughout the play. The imagery of Shakespeare is not always metaphorical, and the interpretation of the script is made to be very individual by not imposing too many stage directions. The best example of this is when the ghost is first introduced, and that is all the script demands of the ghost, nothing mentioned in the stage directions about the appearance or movements of the ghost while on stage. The imagery provided in the dialogue is the only thing that makes the ghost real. It is mentioned by Horatio that the very armour he had on was the same that he wore when combating Norway. This description is for the benefit of the audience, but it can be manipulated in many ways by the actors. To create a greater sense of awe and reverence, the ghost could be portrayed as but an apparition that the actors only can see, not a physical manifestation on the stage. Another option is to show the audience exactly how the king looks, in his deathly state, to create feelings of pity or sympathy for the cursed deceased king. The many interpretations that can be made on Shakespeares text allow the audience feel stronger or lesser emotions for the king. Hamlet is disgusted at his stepfather that much is obvious when he says that the funeral bakd meats of his own beloved father did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables of his mother and uncle. The fact that the food at the wedding was cold is ironic, as the wedding of royalty is meant to be a time of joy, and happiness, yet the food does not fit the spirit of the occasion. This is compounded, in that funeral is symbolic of negativity, and Claudius seemed to see it fit that this was brought on his wedding. The reason for the hasty marriage is revealed in the next meeting with the ghost; that the serpent that stung [Hamlets] fathers life now wears his crown. The imagery of the serpent paints him as a sly being, really crafty and invisible, and cannot be trusted. The symbolism

of this to the audience simply says loud and clear that hes a bad man. That a serpent is used in the imagery is totally appropriate too, for the sting of a snake is poisonous like the leprous distilment that was poured into the kings ear. This is the revealing moment of the play, where the treason is found out about, and the imagery helps to make it a memorable event to the audience. Hamlet blames his mother for the hasty marriage after his fathers death, and, although he sees her as angelic, he cannot help being bitter. The ghost of his father tells him not to taint [his] mind nor let [his] mind contrive against [his] mother aught, yet she is the big reminder of his father and she has let go of him only two months after his death. The ghost paints an image of Gertrude being a radiant angle, but she lets lust into her life; when she had sate[d] [herself] in a celestial bed all that was left was to prey on garbage that was Claudius. The fallen angel is an interesting image, as it tells the audience that Hamlet should still love his mother, and that she is a good woman, yet still should not be trusted. Effectively, the audience gets told that both the new king and queen are corrupted; Hamlet becomes the victim from this point in the play, if the evidence beforehand was not already enough. Imagery gives depth to a situation, and Shakespeare allows flexibility in his play to allow for different interpretations of this depth. Hamlet is rapidly shown to have received the full brunt of his uncles scheming, yet the imagery puts him in the position of a man determined for revenge, not seeming like the man who has no options. The audience is fully behind Hamlet in the first two acts of the play.