Humour in Tragedy
Shakespeare’s play Hamlet has been performed more than any other play in the world. By reading or watching the play, a conclusion can be made that the humour is what makes it so appealing. “Well aware that several hours of unrelenting angst would be a bit much for his audience to take, William Shakespeare strategically placed several humorous scenes throughout his masterpiece”. Comedy may not seem to be a main theme when a summary of the play is told, but certain scenes, soliloquies and conversations make it a key aspect. “In his use of comedy, Shakespeare intensifies, rather than dilutes, the experience of the human tragedy that accompanies it”. “Shakespeare ironically uses Hamlet; the main character to add the comedy bit of the play when he is the one the tragedy affects most”.
“Shakespeare's audience would also have recognized Hamlet as humorous. Not funny, not comical but humorous”. Hamlet’s wittiness is first introduced in an exchange with Claudius in Act 1, Scene 2.
King: How is that the clouds still hang on you?
Hamlet: Not so, my lord; I am too much I’ the sun.
Hamlet makes a pun on the words “sun” and “son”, yet Claudius does not seem to catch on ; “Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not for ever with thy vailed lids. Seek for thy noble father in the dust: Thou know’st ‘tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity”.
Later in Act 1, in the 11th Scene Hamlet’s opinion on his mother’s marriage to his Uncle is shown through his bitter sense of humour, “The funeral baked meats Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables”. He is speaking to Horatio, and he is expressing his thoughts of how his Mother was married very shortly after the death of her husband, Hamlet’s father. Instead of plainly articulating his opinion, he is making reference to how they most likely will serve the same food at his mother’s wedding that they did at his father’s...