Hamlet's Wit Essay examples

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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
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Hamlet's sarcastic responses to Polonius' questions lead the audience to the realization that Hamlet is not truly mad. Polonius asks Hamlet: "What do you read, my lord?"(2.2.190). Hamlet responds to Polonius' question with, "Words, words, words"(191). Polonius asks Hamlet the "matter" he is reading about and Hamlet responds question with, "yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if like a crab you could / go backward"(192-202). Wit is very orderly and a truly mad person could never state something as clever and sarcastic as what Hamlet has just said. Even Polonius realizes that madness and wit do not coincide: "Though this be madness, yet there is / method in't"(203-4). Because of Hamlet's sarcastic conversation with Polonius, we can better understand Hamlet's future actions. Hamlet says and does some rather odd things later on in the play, but the audience knows that he is not really mad, but merely deceiving his enemies.

Hamlet's true condition and state of mind becomes clearer to the audience when he uses wit to express his deepest feelings. Hamlet's sarcastic remarks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern reveal how he truly feels about them. Rosencrantz, clearly acting in behalf of the king, attempts to persuade Hamlet into telling him the reason he is acting so strangely: "Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper?"(3.2.317). Hamlet responds to Rosencrantz by asking him to play a pipe: "Will you play upon this / pipe?"(330-1). When

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