The issues of love, hate, jealous, incest, power struggle, and most importantly the revenge. These themes are all present in Hamlet, and were a theatre element that was most enjoyed by Elizabethan audiences. There are really only two great “speeches” in Act IV of Hamlet, one by Hamlet and one by the King Claudius. The King’s speech, in Act IV, Scene 5, which begins “O, this is the poison of deep grief,” gives a sort of summary of the situation in the play at that particular point.
Hamlet’s speech in Act IV, Scene iv is probably the most effective one in the play; “Rightly to be great Is not to stir without great argument, But greatly to find quarrel in a straw, When honor’s at the stake. ” In the Elizabethan era version of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, many characters’ actions have an effect on the audience viewing the play. In Act I Scene IV King Claudius discovers that Hamlet has killed Polonius, his chief counsellor. This enrages Claudius and he expresses anger, fear and disappointment.
These actions shown by Claudius affect the audience of the Elizabethan era because it shows that a King feels authority, humanity and inefficacy. Authority has always been a principal part of society. All rulers have used authority as control over people and their lives. King Claudius feels so powerful and has abused his authority with no regrets. He wants hamlet to be jailed for the crime he has committed. This expression of anger and authority by the King would have a great effect on the Elizabethan audience.
This would probably make the audience fearful of committing any crime. It would also make them respect their King more because they would not want to do anything to anger him. Humanity is the quality of being human. Claudius is scared that he will be blamed and held responsible for death of Polonius and he does not know how he could explain it. This presents an interesting point that would definitely affect the audience of the Elizabethan era.
For a King to fearful and compassionate would confuse the audience because they expect a King to always be powerful and merciless. They only know their King as being a superior being that is always in control. Inefficacy is the feeling of lack of power and the lack of ability to produce a desired effect. As King Claudius feels authority followed by humanity, he begins to change and feel insufficient and unsuccessful. He feels that he’s made mistakes in his actions and is unsure of what to do next. He also feels that he should have ad the forethought to lock up Hamlet before he had the opportunity to murder Polonius.
These actions would cause a very unusual effect for the Elizabethan era audience. To see such a powerful figure displaying such feelings would be alarming and the audience may feel confused and wonder how a King could feel that way because Kings have always been portrayed as being confident in everything they do. The Elizabethan era was an fascinating time period. Kings were rulers of the free world and everybody had to follow him.
For the audience in today’s era to witness King Claudius showing so many emotions would cause them to feel different. The social, cultural, and economic values and viewpoint of the audience manoeuvre the themes and understandings of a text. Act IV soliloquy was one of the most important soliloquies in the play that influence the interest of audience and readers. Shakespeare plays are still being examined and executed all over the world and he did prove himself worthy of Elizabethan audience.
January 9, 2018
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