What is the mood at the opening of "Hamlet"?

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The mood at the opening of Hamlet is one of suspicion set in place by the motif of watching. The Sentinels wait for the Ghost of King Hamlet to reappear and their worst suspicions will be realized - that foul play is indeed afoot. Shakespeare uses the opening scene to underscore the continuing suspicions of young Hamlet concerning his father's murder intertwined with the motif that nothing or no one will be able to go 'unwatched' in Hamlet's "prison-house" world. Hamlet watches Claudius and Gertrude, and Polonious has spies upon his son and is murdered watching Gertrude and Hamlet. Hamlet employs players to watch Claudius watching a play to uncover his guilt, and all seems to be put into motion because of the Ghost in the opening scene.

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In one word? Tense.

In a few more words? Scared out of their minds. These are experienced guards who have seen battle. They know what to do with physical danger. However, a ghost has been appearing. This period was much more intensely Christian than modern times, and believed more intensely in ghosts and the supernatural in general. A ghost was both a serious threat and a sign that something was wrong.


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