Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare that was first performed in 1603. The play Hamlet is about the Prince of Denmark who seeks revenge on his uncle for murdering his father, the King. Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most popular and well-known plays. Hamlet has been adapted for film, television, and stage productions.
The use of dark humor in Hamlet, as previously stated, is a distinguishing and perplexing aspect of the play: there is frequent wordplay, irony, riddles, clowning, and indecent repartee. The language of Hamlet is creatively and precisely crafted to resemble Shakespeare’s dark humor. In terms of all applications of humour and wit, the language of this play is meant to be enjoyable to the audience but not to the characters. This thinking is vital when considering how comedy fits into a tragedy like Hamlet.
Dark humor is often present in Shakespeare’s tragedies as a way to lighten the mood and provide comic relief from the heavy emotions and events of the plot. Hamlet is no exception; however, the use of dark humor in Hamlet is more purposeful and significant than in other Shakespearean tragedies.
One of the most obvious places where dark humor appears in Hamlet is in Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy. In this soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates suicide as a way to escape his pain and suffering. He ponders whether it is nobler to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.
Hamlet’s deployment of language, especially the pun, Polonius’s conversation with the minor character Ophelia, and the graveyard scene all communicate intentions and plans through the mode of comic relief. The exchange of wits frequently relied on the actors’ identities (Thomson 116). Shakespeare wrote his plays for his contemporaries, so they would be familiar with their actors.
The graveyard scene is one of the most memorable in Hamlet. It is also one of the most overtly comic scenes, yet contains some of the deepest existential truths in the play. Hamlet’s contemplation of mortality and suicide are leavened by his banter with the Clown, which serves to underscore the tragedy of Hamlet’s situation. Even as he contemplates his own death, Hamlet cannot help but make a joke. This makes the character both more human and more tragic.
In addition to the language, Hamlet’s use of props and stage business are also key to understanding his intentions. The fact that Hamlet carries around Yorick’s skull has been interpreted in many different ways. Some say that Hamlet is simply trying to come to terms with death, while others say that he is using the skull as a prop to remind himself and the other characters of their mortality.
However, Hamlet’s interactions with the skull are also very comic. He talks to it, puts it on his head, and uses it to hit Polonius. This use of props is another way that Shakespeare shows Hamlet’s intentions through comic relief.
Hamlet is a tragedy, but it is also a play full of comedy. The comedy relief serves to heighten the tragedy by making Hamlet more human and relatable. It also allows Shakespeare to explore the deep existential truths at the heart of the play. The next time you watch Hamlet, pay attention to the comic relief and see if it doesn’t make the tragedy all the more poignant.
The pun is Shakespeare’s most frequent comic usage. Hamlet, who appears to be showing indications of severe annoyance towards his elders but instead uses cutting remarks to defend himself, is introduced in act one. Humor (though it may be biting) suggests a nimble and adaptable mind as well as an imagination, according to Hamlet. Wittenberg is home to wits that are “a little more than kin and less than kind” (1. 2. 65).
Hamlet is saying that Claudius is now his stepfather, which Hamlet finds to be a little too close for comfort, and not something he’s particularly happy about. Hamlet is once again being sarcastic, but there is an element of truth in what he’s saying. Hamlet doesn’t want to think of Claudius as his father, because that would make Gertrude Hamlet’s mother-in-law, which would be even more uncomfortable. Hamlet may also be alluding to the fact that Claudius killed his father in order to marry Gertrude, which makes him kin by marriage, but not by blood (Watts 94).
The play Hamlet was written by William Shakespeare and is a tragedy. Hamlet is the main character and the story revolves around him. Hamlet is a young man who is grieving the death of his father and is unhappy with his mother’s remarriage to his Uncle Claudius. Hamlet pretends to be mad in order to take revenge on Claudius for killing his father.
Hamlet’s girlfriend, Ophelia, goes mad and drowns herself. Hamlet kills Polonius, thinking he was Claudius. Hamlet’s mother dies from drinking poison meant for Hamlet. Hamlet kills Claudius and then dies from being stabbed with a poisoned sword. Fortinbras becomes the new king of Denmark.
Hamlet is a complex character with many facets to his personality. He is intelligent and witty, but also melancholic and brooding. He is torn between his duty to take revenge for his father’s death and his conscience, which tells him that revenge is wrong. Hamlet is a tragic figure because he brings about his own downfall through his actions. Hamlet’s Hamartia is his delay in taking revenge, which leads to the deaths of many other characters, including himself.
The play Hamlet deals with issues such as grief, love, betrayal, revenge, and death. It is a tragedy because it ends in the deaths of most of the main characters. Hamlet is a tragedy because it shows how one man’s actions can lead to the downfall of many. Hamlet is a tragedy because it teaches us that revenge is not always the best solution. Hamlet is a tragedy because it makes us question our own mortality and whether or not life is worth living. Hamlet is a tragedy because, in the end, everyone dies.
The ingenious use of words in Shakespeare’s works is on display here. Hamlet’s retreat to a tower after seeing his father’s ghost is interrupted by his friends, who try to prevent him from following the apparition. I’ll make a ghost out of him that allows me! (1. 4. 84-5) In Elizabethan English, “lets” means “allows” as well as “hinders.” (Charney 51) The sentence now has two meanings. Polonius’ death by Hamlet was presaged by Hamlet’s instinctive and unconscious punning; at the very least, it indicated the murder of someone by Hamlet.
This dual meaning is also evident when Hamlet is speaking to his mother. He says, “Ay, madam, it is common. / I hope your Grace is well” (1. 2. 67-8). Hamlet could be asking Gertrude if she too is grieving for King Hamlet Sr., or he could be saying that her sexual relationship with Claudius is known throughout the court.
This again reflects Hamlet’s state of mind; he cannot think straight and his words come out in a jumble. Puns were not commonly used in Elizabethan drama because they were considered lowbrow and workers’ humor (Charney 46). However, Shakespeare was not afraid to use them in order to reflect Hamlet’s mental state.
Shakespeare also uses puns to create humor in the play. When Hamlet is putting on his “antic disposition,” he tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, “I am but mad north-north-west. / When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw” (2. 2. 383-4). In other words, Hamlet is only crazy when the wind is coming from the northwest; otherwise, he can tell a hawk from a handsaw. This is a clever way of Hamlet saying that he is only pretending to be mad and that he knows what he is doing.
Puns are just one of the many ways that Shakespeare uses language to create meaning in Hamlet. By using words with multiple meanings, Shakespeare is able to add depth and complexity to his characters and their relationships.
Shakespeare also alludes to Hamlet’s time period in terms of society and the theater. When his mother asks why he is sad, Hamlet responds, “Actions that a man may play” (1. 2. 84). Then, when Hamlet encounters his father’s ghost, he thinks to himself, “While memory holds a seat / In this distracted globe” (1. 5. 103-4). It’s possible that Shakespeare is referring to his head when he says, “While memory sits on its throne,” implying a globe (Thomson 19). The theatrical pun provides an understated marketing pitch by adding the phrase while memory lasts.”
Later, Hamlet tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that they are “more like to my mother” (2. 2. 182) since they have come to Denmark at the king’s request. Hamlet is both insulting his mother and alluding to her sexual promiscuity by using the word “like.” The double meaning of words is a common Shakespearean technique, used often in Hamlet.
One of the things that makes Hamlet so popular is the fact that it can be interpreted in many different ways. Some people see Hamlet as a tragic hero, while others see him as a madman. There are also those who see Hamlet as a victim of circumstance. No matter how you interpret Hamlet, there is no denying that it is one of Shakespeare’s greatest works.