Hamlet's Wit

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Hamlet's Wit

We remember Shakespeare's characters largely because of their enormously complex personalities. Hamlet, with his inner conflicts, indecision, wit, and passive-aggressive behavior, is one of Shakespeare's most memorable characters. Yet so much attention has been given to Hamlet's inner conflict-whether or not he should kill his uncle-that a large piece of his personality is easy to overlook. Hamlet's wit strikes out at the audience in several different scenes throughout the play and not only gives the reader greater insight into Hamlet's deepest feelings, but greater insight into the play itself.

In Hamlet's first few lines of the play he expresses his deepest feelings through his wit. Hamlet's sarcastic conversation with Claudius and Gertrude lets the reader know that he is extremely unpleased with the relationship between his uncle and mother. Specifically, when Claudius refers to Hamlet as his "son," Hamlet uses the word "sun" in such a way that Claudius can also interpret the word "sun" as the word "son," which would imply that Hamlet was glad to be the newly adopted son of Claudius. Hamlet is obviously being sarcastic, because Hamlet resents Claudius for marrying his mother and referring to him as his "son"(1.2.62-67). Hamlet has barely spoken his first few lines of the play and Shakespeare is already showing the witty side of Hamlet's personality. This speaks for how important Hamlet's wit is to the understanding of Hamlet's character. Shakespeare uses Hamlet's sarcastic remarks to portray Hamlet as cunning and to foreshadow how Hamlet will most likely deal with any problems that may arise later in the play.

Hamlet, while conversing with other characters, reveal...

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...scover that Hamlet is not so much riddled with indecisiveness as he is playing out his well-contrived strategy for capturing his revenge.

Works Cited

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368.

Gordon, Edward J. Introduction to Tragedy. Rochelle Park, NJ: Hayden Book Co., Inc., 1973.

---. "Psychoanalytic Criticism and Hamlet." Wofford. 241-251.

Jorgensen, Paul A. "Hamlet." William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag.

Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. T. J. B. Spencer. New York: Penguin, 1996.
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