Battlements, a bitterly cold night, a clock striking twelve, challenges and recognitions, with worried and sceptical consultation about a ghost, all silenced by the entry of a commanding figure in complete armour: these details from the first scene of Hamlet have become clichés for dramatists, storytellers, poets, and film-makers. But when first brought together the effect on an audience might well have been to ‘harrow’ it with fear and wonder (l. 44), as it does Horatio, Hamlet’s fellow scholar from university.
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