What are the significant aspects of the court of Elsinore presented in Hamlet?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I remember studying this play myself at High School, and my teacher said to us all that the court of Elsinore in so many ways is depicted as a setting that highlights Hamlet's vulnerability and helps contribute to his presentation of being something of a hunted man and individual. One of the defining aspects of the court is the way that Hamlet never appears to be safe there. He is constantly being spied upon or tricked by former friends who pretend to have his best interests at heart but only serve the new king. For example, consider the role of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in this, former friends of Hamlet who are now charged by Claudius to maintain that friendship and find out what is bothering him.

Note, too, the way in which other characters are constantly spying on Hamlet or trying to eavesdrop on his conversations. His meeting with Ophelia in Act III scene 1 is overheard by Polonius and Claudius. His meeting with his mother after the fateful performance of The Mousetrap is overheard by Polonius. Again and again, Hamlet is presented as a hounded man by the way in which Elsinore seems full of characters who are trying to spy on him or deceive him. A recent production in London set Elsinore in some kind of police state in the future, where Hamlet was under constant surveillance, to emphasise this theme.


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