Irony in Hamlet

1745 Words7 Pages
Irony in Hamlet This essay will discuss the issue of irony in Hamlet by dealing with the problems that arise as a result of Hamlet's attempt to avenge his father's death. One of the central problems is the clash between Hamlet's overpowering need to believe in the ghost of his father, who is the authoritative figure in his life, and the awareness that he lacks empirical knowledge of the truth. In trying to achieve this knowledge, Hamlet sets out on a mixed mission of accusation, revenge and the search for truth, finally causing the upset of the original revenge plot when it ricochets off Polonius' dead body and hits Hamlet in the name of Laertes. As a tragedy, Hamlet deals very heavily in anguish and frustration that are not necessarily allowed the means to be resolved or dissipated. Marvin Rosenberg notes in his essay, "Subtext in Shakespeare", that in tragedies, there are greater uncertainties and the "mystery of the character deepens, and the subtext is subtler, more open to variable interpretation"(82). Hence, unlike Viola, Hamlet's actions overlay motivations of greater ambiguity and these actions, as the play progresses, seemed that they are not primed to make the situation come a full circle. Instead of a an equilibrium, therefore, one finds a form of usurpation where the crown of Denmark, represented by both Claudius and Hamlet, is removed and taken by a foreign prince, Fortinbras. Hamlet's desire for vengeance came about as a result of the ghost's appearance and his accusatory speech in which he extorts his son to "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder" (1.5.25). Hamlet is at once struck with the problem of whether he should believe that the ghost is really that of his father and ... ... middle of paper ... ... 1998. Kreiger, Elliot. "Malvolio and Class Ideology". Bloom (19-26). Leverenz, David. "The Woman in Hamlet: An Interpersonal View". Schwartz, Murray M. and Coppelia Kahn, eds. Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays. Baltimore: John Hopkins U P, 1980. Nevo, Ruth. Comic Transformations in Shakespeare. London: Methuen & Co., 1980. Rosenberg, Marvin. "Subtext in Shakespeare". Thompson, Marvin, and Ruth Thompson, eds. Shakespeare and the Sense of Performance. Newark: U of Delaware P, 1989. (79-90). Shakespeare, William. The New Cambridge Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Philip Edwards. Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1985. Thatcher, David. Begging to Differ: Modes of Discrepancy in Shakespeare. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. Vickers, Brian. Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels. New Haven: Yale U P, 1993

More about Irony in Hamlet

Open Document