How Does Shakespeare Create Suspense In Hamlet

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First published in 1604 William Shakespeare's Hamlet tells the story of a Danish prince who discovers his father, King Hamlet has been murdered by King Hamlet’s brother Claudius. Part of the reason Hamlet is still being performed over 400 years later is due to the elements of mystery throughout the entire play. From the first act emphasis on mystery is evident even from when Bernardo asks “Who’s there?” (I.i.1). The dialogue of Hamlet being filled with mystery creates a sense of unease in the audience which in turn, shapes how the actor portrays the character on stage. The actor’s performance is important as it allows the audience to interpret the feelings and thoughts of the characters much more easily in addition to providing insight into…show more content…
Shakespeare’s use of tension and suspense in Hamlet helps to create effective stage direction and in turn, excellent characterization. From the beginning of Hamlet Shakespeare creates suspense and tension through the use of imagery and dramatic foil. While the audience is still unaware that Hamlet features elements of the supernatural Marcellus describes the ghost as “[that] dreaded sight” (I.i.25). The deliberately vague imagery causes the audience to fear what may appear to the soldiers. This fear is expanded upon when, as Bernardo recalls the details of when he last saw the ghost, he is interrupted by Marcellus: “Peace! break thee off; where it comes again!” (I.i.39). The use of short, startling interjections put the audience on edge for the entirety of King Hamlet’s stay. While suspense features prominently in the first act it is also found throughout the rest of the play. For…show more content…
Hamlet, being the protagonist has the greatest capability for an actor’s interpretation. For instance, An actor may choose to portray Hamlet in such a way that he is merely feigning an “antic disposition” or, perhaps during his confrontation with Gertrude he loses his sanity (I.v.172). Unable to contain himself knowing he is acting against the commands of his father: “against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven” (I.V.86). Moreover Claudius changes greatly as different actors perform differently. The greatest difference is the king’s soliloquy in 3.3, in which he struggles with his guilt. Claudius wishes to be absolved of his sin but “Pray can [he] not,” (III.iii.39) yet he also wishes to keep “[his] crown, … ambition and [his] queen” (III.iii.56). This marks a turning point for Claudius. As he kneels, he utters, “All may be well” this can be portrayed as Claudius’ eschewing of his morality and confirmation as a villain or, as his acceptance of the consequences to his actions. In sum, the characterization of the dramatis personae in Hamlet depend highly on their individual

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