Thematic Purpose Of Humor In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The Thematic Purpose of Humor in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” As the author of many plays, William Shakespeare is well known for his satirical jabs at the royal monarchy, human nature, and his use of sexual innuendos to keep the audience engaged. Hamlet is no exception to this with its witty and sarcastic undertones that are easily missed if not paid close attention to. In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses satire to temporarily distract the audience from the dark and incessant tragedy that ensues throughout the play. Shakespeare’s use of humor is not only for the purpose of keeping the audience entertained, but to serve a more thematic purpose. The placement of humorous dialogue in not random and occurs before or immediately following vastly emotional and/ or violent scenes. The exchange of satire occurs frequently…show more content…
In this instance, Prince Hamlet has taken up his “antic disposition” and begins to speak in a manner the audience can only conceive to be comedic. When Polonius asks Hamlet in line 171 if he recognizes him, Hamlet replies, “Excellent well, you are a fishmonger.” This instance sets up one of the overall presiding theme present in the play. The theme of madness deals largely with hysteria and comedy. Without the comedy provided in the dialogue, the theme of madness would not be as prevalent or as relevant to the play. Prince Hamlet’s sanity is called into question multiple times due to the comedic essence of his speech. This plays out when Hamlet refers to Polonius as a “tedious old fool (Hamlet 2. 2. 209)” while pretending to be crazy and when he is referred to him once more as an “intruding fool (Hamlet 3. 4. 34)” when Hamlet slays him. Hamlet’s logic for stabbing the curtain makes the reader question his sanity and even more so when his speech reflects no remorse and reduces Polonius’s death to “a comic butt for his jests

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