In the play hamlet we see hamlet, a man stuck in a deceitful world. The spies, everybody but Hamlet, need deceit and treachery to live, and without it they would perish. Polonius, perhaps the most underhanded member of the play lives and dies while spying, literally. Other characters spy also to better themselves to certain individual to advance their social status. We see Hamlet, the one honest man left in the bunch, spying his one time to save his very own life. The perceptiveness of Hamlet is short-lived as are all actions in this play save the killing. “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain”(I, v, l.108) This is to be my theme, something that Hamlet discovered and lived by for many a year and scene.
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be, far loan oft loses both itself a friend”(I, iii, l.75-76). Experience Polonius has in both fields, for he represents the loathing, scheming men of the world in Hamlet. Polonius is an underhanded man in the play. We see this fat Lord chamberlain play goofy and somewhat stupid during his talks with Hamlet. We know that when his son Laertes is sent to France, Polonius send a spy to follow him and to make sure he is not doing any wrong. Polonius also likes to keep tabs on everyone including his daughter Ophelia, who is expected to report her relations with the lord Hamlet to her father. Later in the play, Ophelia lets Polonius and Claudius spy on Hamlet and herself conversing. “Her father and myself…, seeing unseen, we may from encounter frankly judge… if’t be th’affliction of his love or no that thus he suffers for” (III, i, l.32-37). Polonius, known for his deceit is the only real symbol of it, and it is symbolic when hamlet kills him, almost like killing the evil which plagued the land in his natural form, for Polonius was unceremoniously spying on Hamlet and his mother from behind a curtain.
Other characters in Hamlet are also deceitful. Laertes, has poison, from where did he get it? Ophelia as said earlier, serves as a medium for Claudius and Polonius to tap into hamlet’s thoughts. The queen is even a part of it one time. Even without the spying however, she is intertwined in guilt, marrying the brother and killer of her husband on the day of his funeral; what shame (unfortunately only experienced by Hamlet!).
Hamlet’s Destructive Humor
Hamlet’s Destructive Humor
Humor can be funny and uplifting or cynical and destructive. Hamlet’s humor insults every one around him and it’s very cynical and leads to his downfall. When Hamlet insults people around him, his remarks are not clearly understood by the people who he is insulting. Hamlet makes Polonius look like a fool when he criticizes him with his words, and Polonius doesn’t know that he is being fooled. Hamlet even makes fun of the courtiers particularly Rosencrantz and Guildernstern. Although Hamlet doesn’t stop there, he even insults Claudius and his own mother, Gertrude. Hamlet’s love, Ophelia, is also an unfortunate victim of these remarks. All these insulting remarks show Hamlet’s lack of sympathy for other people, and this confusion leads to his downfall.
When Hamlet feigns madness, Polonius is the most unfortunate victim of Hamlet’s insulting and humorous words. When Polonius asks Hamlet, “Do you know me my lord?” (2.2.173) Hamlet replies by saying, “Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.” (2.2.174). Hamlet says that, Polonius is sacrificing his daughter’s happiness to win the trust of the king. Hamlet says to Polonius, “For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion-Have you a daughter?” (2.2.182-183). Hamlet says that it is not surprising that Polonius is such a hypocrite, because the life giving sun can produce all kinds of horrible things, especially from other horrible things. Polonius asks Hamlet, “Will you walk out of the air, my lord?”(2.2.204), and Hamlets says, “Into my grave” (2.2.204). When Polonius offers Hamlet to go to a warmer room, Hamlet says he’d rather die than go anywhere with Polonius. All these insulting remarks show that Polon…
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… Hamlet’s humor is rude and insulting to people around him; it’s very cynical and leads to his downfall. Hamlet proves his cynical humor when he fools Polonius, makes fun of the courtiers and insults Claudius, Gertrude and Ophelia. Hamlet insults Polonius with his words and always finds out what the courtiers were up to. All these experiences show that humor can be joyful but on the other hand it could prove to be very fatal.
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.