As the play Hamlet opens, what is the mood?

Expert Answers
mattbuckley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The opening of this classical play is one of confusion. It is ominous as the opening line asks the question of "Who's there?" The characters are almost hysterical in there anxiousness. It lets the audience know that something is very wrong in the setting. This opening question is very important throughout the play as the protagonist, Hamlet, must always be asking himself the very same question, "Who's there". He is in an identity crisis as he does not know who he is. Is he the loyal son of King Hamlet. Is he the Prince of Denmark. Should he be the avenging son of a murdered king, or the loyal prince to the new King? Is he mad or just pretending to get an advantage over his enemies? Should he be an avenging murderous prince or a loyal stepson to his uncle?

aszerdi | Student

As the play opens the mood is ominous. There is a sense of apprehension and paranoia. This is observed as the soldiers repeatedly and almost frantically as each other who is there. The following quote from Marcellus also highlights their fear and anxiety upon viewing an apparition that appeared to be their king:

"Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us:
Therefore I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night;
That if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes and speak to it."

Furthermore, they view this ghost again, and Horatio trembles and appears pale. All these fearful occurrences within this first scene foreshadow the tragic events that will follow later in the play.