Good Essays
Comedy lightens the mood, progresses the plot, and provides a necessary reprieve from the suspense of the play. Comedic relief commands a vital role in the William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. In order to maintain the audience’s interest, an author inserts puns and other comedic vices to enhance their work. Shakespeare constantly introduces characters to allay the strain on the audience from past events in the plot. This comedic relief usually contains a hidden meaning or message that augments the plot. In the play Hamlet Osric, Polonius, and the Gravedigger are used as these conduits of humor.

The character Osric relieves much of the tension built from the proceeding acts. His interjection in this tragedy culminates with Hamlet and Laertes’ fighting sequences. Hamlet manipulates this character by exploiting his obedience to royalty when he states, “Put your bonnet to his right use, ‘tis for the head” (V.ii.101). Osric replies, “I thank your lordship, it is very hot” (V.ii.102). Hamlet then responds “No, believe me, ‘tis very cold; the wind is north- / erly” (V.ii.103). Hamlet persists with this ruse, constantly pressuring Osric to remove and replace his hat. This scene mitigates the stress from the graveyard scuffle and leads into Hamlet and Laertes’ duel. Shakespeare further uses Osric to express his personal opinion on the class structure of the present society.

William Shakespeare criticizes the new wealthy merchant class, prevalent in the Elizabethan era, through Hamlet and Osric’s dialogue. Hamlet ridicules Osric and his social standing in an aside to Horatio, “Let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall / Stand at the King’s men” (V.ii.95-96). Hamlet implies that any fool with money can gain entran...

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...nteractions with the Gravedigger. Although this character has a relatively small role, he has an enormous impact on the course of the play.

Comedic relief plays a vital role in any tragedy or suspenseful play: It serves as a stark contrast to the harsh reality being presented throughout the story. In the tragedy Hamlet by William Shakespeare, comedy is utilized to distract the audience from the dramatic course of events. The theatrical plot also progresses with the comedic relief inserted in the play. Shakespeare brilliantly develops his characters in a comedic way that continues the plot and eases his spectators. If writers chose not to offset tragedy with comedy, the story would simply be too depressing to entertain the vast audiences. Therefore, it is fair to surmise that without comedic relief, Hamlet may not have been the iconic story it has become.
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