The use of humor in a tragic story helps to give the reader a break from the monotony of a depressing story line. “If a story were completely filled with depressing and tragic events, the readers’ interest would most definitely be lost”( Bloom 91). William Shakespeare’s, Hamlet is based on the tragedy of a murder of the king of Denmark, whose son must revenge his murderer. Therefore it is classified as a tragedy and if humor weren’t present in the play it would be very depressing. Shakespeare ironically uses Hamlet; the main character to add the comedy bit of the play when he is the one the tragedy affects most. This humor is evident throughout the play by Hamlet. When Hamlet is upset at someone like Claudius or Polonius he will mock them in their presence without either one of them really catching on too quickly.
The first one of Hamlet’s stand up routines is with his uncle, Claudius in Act I, scene ii. Claudius comments on Hamlets mourning and Hamlet snaps back with a clever pun.
Claudius. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Hamlet. Not so, my lord. I am too much in the sun.
(Shakespeare I.ii. ll. 66-67)
When Hamlet refers to the sun he is actually saying that he feels that he is “too much of a son” to Caudius, when he is really supposed to be his nephew. The whole complication between Hamlet and Claudius is that, Hamlet’s father died and then Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius married his mother. This leaves Hamlet with a strange family tree because his uncle doubles as his stepfather. The line that proceeds the ones seen above also tells the reader of the awkwardness of the situation.
Hamlet. A little more than kin, and less than kind!
(Shakespeare I.ii. ll. 6…
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…r the reader. The comedy helps break the story up a bit and gives the reader a mental breather from some of the complications in the play. While the reader is given a mental breather from the seriousness of the play they also are fed some of Hamlet’s inner thought about the people he is interacting with. Hamlet is able to directly tell the other person exactly what he feels of them and by using humor, sneak it past them in most cases.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations Of Hamlet. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Brodwin, Leonora. Hamlet Character Analysis. Monarch Notes. Brodwin’s Notes
Scott-Hopkins, Benjamin. “Dark Humor of Hamlet” Shakespeare-Online
Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” The Unabridged William Shakespeare. William George Clark and William Aldis Wright, ed. Running Press. 1989.
Free Hamlet Essays: The Message of Hamlet
The Message of Hamlet
Hamlet shows a lot of sadness and also contemplates suicide. He is very confused with his feelings and his depression has brought down his spirits, but Hamlet uses a mask of pride to hide all of this from the naked eye. The many event’s which have occurred, has made thinking straight for Hamlet difficult. His plans of avenging his fathers death are unraveling beforehis eyes; and he is not in the right state of mind to fix things.
Hamlet may be very proud; but it is obvious he is very depressed and confused with life; “O God, God, How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!” (I; ii; 32-34) First of all, Hamlet comes home to a dead father and the re-marriage of his mother to his uncle, Claudius; “We pray you throw to earth This unprevailing woe, and think of us as a father, for let the world take note you are the most immediate to our throne.” (I; ii, 106-109) All of this has been a huge negative shock to Hamlet. He does not understand the event’s which have taken place. Hamlet’s mother re-marring makes mourning his father’s death all the more difficult. He does not understand why his mother would re-marry so soon after the death of her husband; especially the fact that it’s to his uncle, Claudius. All of this has caused a lot of anger and sadness inside of Hamlet. All of his feelings have become unbearable and bottled up. He begins to lose control of his life. It has also caused him to feel a lot of hatred towards his mother. He also feels hatred towards Claudius and blames him, for their marriage. Hamlet’s hatred does not stop with his mother and Claudius; he begins to see women as less due to his mothers’ actions. When Hamlet thought things could not get any worse, the ghost of his father appears, revealing his murderer; “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown” (I; v; 39-40) Hamlet was not at all surprised to find that his father’s murderer was his own uncle; “O my prophetic soul!” (I; v; 41) Although Hamlet and two others saw the ghost with their own eyes, Hamlet was still reluctant to believing. Hamlet was the only one to hear the words of his father’s ghost.