A Shakespearean scene, with all of its intricacies and details, has the capacity to uncover the fundamental aspects of characters while acting as a space for precise language to lead the reader through multilayered themes, tensions, and ideas. Particularly in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, the dense, rippling text packs provocative and meaningful language within nearly every line to compose an intricate, seamless tragic play. Specifically in the first scene of Act 3, the actions, dialogue, and movements of each character involved creates a momentum of revelation for the reader regarding central character, Hamlet, and the breadth of his character. Every major, influential character of the play—King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and, of course, Hamlet—appears in 3.1 and every line of dialogue directly concerns Hamlet in one way or another. The scene exhibits the prince alone on stage in a soliloquy to illustrate his innermost thoughts, as well as in the presence of others; thus, the reader learns of Hamlet’s propensity to feel, think, or say one thing, while his actions do not always cohere with his thoughts or speech. In this way, one of Hamlet’s tragic character flaws lends itself to the aforementioned discord between thinking and acting, and the scene chronicles the ways in which his dissonance profoundly affects the major themes and characters of the play.
Scene 3.1 first unfolds with King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Polonius and Hamlet’s cronies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in anxious dialogue concerning Hamlet’s recent shift in disposition. Claudius refers to Hamlet’s recent state as a put-on of “confusion” (3.1.2) and a “turbulent and d...
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...impressive ability to move and shape the play’s characters in such a way that the threads of language create a complex web between the layers of each character involved. In this way, the psychology of the characters gains autonomy from the bounds of authorship through the very language of the text and begs to move freely within the text. Shakespeare entrusted an enormous power into Hamlet’s character, especially, because though he acts tentatively and waveringly, the character of him, including his disposition, manners, speech and outward exhibitions, adhere to the other characters of the play as puppet strings, and he inspires almost all of their actions because of his own reluctance to initiate movement. This interdependence of the minutiae of the complex text contributes to the achieved brilliance and long-lived speculation regarding Shakespeare’s tragic play.
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