This is communicated by Shakespeare through Claudius. He briefly explains that Denmark has just been to war with Norway where they captured new territory. However, the Norwegians want their land back and so the audience feels the tension building up. The new king also thanks the people for keeping up with the events. After all, they have just witnessed a funeral for one king followed by a hasty marriage of their Queen, followed very closely by the crowning of the new king Claudius himself.
From Claudius’ speech the audience develops a dislike to his character because he seems very fake. For example he says, “Though yet of Hamlet, our dear brother’s death the memory be green” after which he quickly changes the subject to his marriage to the queen. He is a typical politician trying to please everyone. After looking important and bossing around Laertes, he turns to Hamlet, the prince. “But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son” he calls Hamlet a cousin and he calls him a son but both are actually a lie.
Hamlet wittily replies “A little more than kin, and more than kind. ” This is clever wordplay because Hamlet is mocking with Claudius but doesn’t make it look like he is. Hamlet says he is “more than” a kin. He is more “kin” to his uncle. He also says it to emphasize that he isn’t like his uncle even though he is his stepson. The next thing Hamlet says can be interpreted in two different ways. When he says “Not the dejected ‘havior of the visage, Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief. That can denote me truly, these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play,” he goes on to explain how it is not how he looks but how he feels inside. However the interesting thing is that visage can be used to describe a face as well as a mask so is he trying to say that these are his true emotions or is he hiding behind a mask? This scene reveals the relationship between Hamlet and Claudius. Claudius tells Hamlet to not return to his school because Claudius wants to keep him close to him so as to keep an eye on him. Even the Queen wants him to stay with them.
Hamlet answers “I shall in all my best obey you mother” which shows the audience that he does not have a lot of respect for Claudius. As all of communication of feeling is done solely through monologues, the audience finds out Hamlet’s true feelings through his soliloquy. We find out that Hamlet is disgusted by his mother’s marriage to Claudius after his father’s death. He compares Claudius to his father and thinks one is a “hyperion” a sun god while the other is a “satyr”. Satyrs are creatures in mythology who were half man half goat and ran around raping women.
Hamlet expresses his bitterness to his mother he doesn’t like the way she “hangs on him”. He is very upset that she married so soon after the funeral “Frailty, thy name is woman”. He thinks that Queen Gertrude is committing incest as she married her husband’s brother, so she was related to him. However, the audience get the impression that he doesn’t want to make anyone upset as he says “For I must hold my tongue”. Hamlet’s bitterness is also shown in his dialogue with Horatio, when he says that Horatio didn’t come to see his father’s funeral but came to attend the wedding.
He shows his hatred of Claudius when he comments on the fact that Claudius was so cheap that he had to use the same food for both occasions. This scene is also very important because it is the first time Hamlet finds out about the ghost of his father. He questions his appearance and after finding out about that agrees to come with them to see the ghost tonight. The audience realizes that Hamlet is suspicious about his father’s death and is very upset. He “doubts some foul play” and believes that “all is not well”. The audience overwhelmingly agrees.