H2016: Juxtaposing Speeches

Tonight we’ll be blocking the latter part of “Scene 1,” which is our nomenclature for Hamlet’s 1.2. It’s the section after Claudius and the court have exited, and Hamlet soliloquizes (more briefly, in our script), then receives news of the Ghost via Horatio and Marcellus. It’s an exposition-heavy scene, although it’s made a bit more…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 49

MARCELLUS: It is offended. BARNARDO:                        See, it stalks away! This shared line provides the actor playing the Ghost with a brace of remarkably precise acting tips. More than tips, in fact; if a production retains these two lines, they confine the actor to a specific set of choices. It’s a great example of the dramaturgical…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 17-18

MARCELLUS: Holla! Bernardo! BARNARDO: Say, what, is Horatio there? HORATIO:                                                  A piece of him. This terse exchange serves as a real introduction to Horatio, distinguishing him instantly from the soldiers — who are, let’s face it, fairly flat and interchangeable characters. His acerbic reply falls into the “ask a stupid question” category, since Barnardo was,…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 12-13

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS. FRANCISCO: I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there? HORATIO: Friends to this ground. MARCELLUS:                                  And liegemen to the Dane. A moment ago, Barnardo supplied the audience with two new names, and speak of the devil, they appear — either a split second before Francisco hears them, or else…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 6-8

FRANCISCO: For this relief much thanks: ’tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart. BERNARDO: Have you had quiet guard? FRANCISCO:                                          Not a mouse stirring. One of the things I love most about Shakespeare is his instinct for when to use flowering, grandiose imagery, and when to keep things arrestingly ordinary. These lines, which…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 3

BARNARDO: Long live the king! FRANCISCO:                                 Barnardo? BARNARDO:                                                    He. Here we have “one line” of shared blank verse — that is, five iambs that happen to be split up between three lines of dialogue. New readers of Shakespeare often get confused when they see lines pushed forward across the page like this, and most editors…