In scene i, the night watch at Elsinore castle in Denmark has arrived for duty. They’ve asked Horatio, a close friend of Hamlet, prince of Denmark, to accompany them. Why? They have been seeing things. odd things.
This raises an interesting question: how does one approach a ghost?
Scene ii takes place in the Danish court. Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle) and Gertrude (Hamlet’s mother) are our hosts:
- Claudius, showing his political acumen, explains his marriage to the audience, and then addresses the issue of the pesky young Fortinbras (a young warrior who won’t leave Denmark alone)
- Laertes, a young student who is the son of Claudius’ key advisor, Polonius, asks to return home.
- Hamlet will approach the king and queen; we need to pay careful attention to the nature of their discussion.
- Hamlet will be left alone; let’s see what happens.
- Finally, Horatio arrives to share news of the ghost.
As we read through the scene, I’d like to watch for these particular lines:
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
A little more than kin, and less than kind.
Not so, my lord; I am too much i’ the sun.
’tis unmanly grief;
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter!