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Shakespeare’s Hamlet: A Discussion, Part I (Act 1)

Act One sets the story for Hamlet. There is construction to this play. Hamlet is the son of the dead king by the same name. Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, is the son of the king by the same name. Within the court of Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle, new king, married to his mother) is Polonius and his son Laertes. Three young men who are causing trouble for the adults. Generation conflict. This play is modern because for the first time the world witnesses adolescent rebellion. They have cause. But they do rebel. These intergenerational problems do not just stay in the home; they become political as well. Hamlet too is dealing with the grief for his dead father, and the rapid remarriage of his mother. He doubts everything but love. But now, due to this hasty marriage, he doubts love too. A young man lost. The whole Hamlet problem in a nutshell is why does he not act sooner? If the ghost tells him in Act One what to do, why does it take until Act Five before he does something? The problem of Hamlet is the problem of action. Why does he not do what he is told to do?

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