HAMLET- Act 1, Scene 4

Summarise the events of the scene. On the bitter cold ramparts, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus keep watch. Meanwhile, from inside the castle they hear the roar of revelry. Hamlet condemns Claudius’s constant merry-making, saying that it makes the noble Danes look “swinish” and corrupt.The Ghost appears and beckons Hamlet to follow it. But Horatio and Marcellus hold him back: they think the ghost may be a demon laying a trap for him. Hamlet breaks free of them and follows after the Ghost.Marcellus says “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (1.4.90). They run after Hamlet.
How does Hamlet interpret indulgence and enjoyment at the beginning of the scene? Hamlet connects indulgence of desires to corruption. What looks like enjoyment only hides internal corruption.Appearance vs Reality/ Poison, corruption, death.
What is the symbolism of the “flourish of trumpets and two pieces”? This demonstrates Claudius’s corruption and inner turmoil. He is surrounding himself with loud music and revelry to distract from his internal truths. Corruption is also evident as the court are celebrating a time extremely close to the death of a King (Old Hamlet), this would be seen as alien to an Elizabethan audience and reflects Claudius’s value of himself and the general corruption within the Danish court.
How does Shakespeare offer a commentary on religion through the scene? The insecurity of the guards shows that faith and religion alone holds no certain answers. They are witnessing the inexplicable which calls into question the nature of their reality and that of the ghost. Appearance vs Reality/ Poison, corruption, death/ Religion, honour and revenge.
How does Horatio foreshadow the downfall of Hamlet and of the other characters in the play? “What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord?” “Flood” suggests downfall and inescapable death. The extent of a “flood” also suggests widespread, rather than individual downfall.
What does Hamlet’s pursuit of the Ghost demonstrate about his character? In the pursuit of truth and answers, Hamlet is fearless and is willing to act. It is therefore his morality and not cowardice which prevents him from acting upon revenge. Action and inaction.
What is the main conflict within this scene and what could this be a euphamism for? “Be thou a spirit of health or Goblin damned.” Hamlet is questioning the true nature of the ghost. This could be a wider euphamism for Hamlet’s own internal conflict between general good and evil; his desire to avenge his father’s death out of pure animalistic urges and his firm grasp of reason and morality.

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