An Analytical Essay on Comic Relief in Hamlet

An Analytical Essay on Comic Relief in Hamlet

Length: 642 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
An Analytical Essay on Comic Relief in Hamlet

In Hamlet, the majority of the comic relief is dark and depressing. The main character is obsessed with death and makes morbid jokes about old age, deception, and corpses. This side of the character is shown so that the reader can understand how much this disturbs the prince. The result of this is a play with some very depressing scenes.

Hamlet's negative attitude gives way to many sadistic jests at the events surrounding him. He tells his friend Horatio that the food brought for the funeral was served at the wedding, also. This joke is sad because Hamlet is still grieving while he is forced to endure the pungent incestuous image of his mother sharing a bed with his uncle. This disturbing time for him leads to most of his depressing humor. His family's blatant deception causes him to state sarcastically that if the world is honest, then the end of the world must be near. The reader can identify with Hamlet's feelings of bitterness and disillusionment because of his sarcastic reactions.

Fairly soon after, Polonius becomes the object of Hamlet's ridicule. The appearance of this aspect of humor is not surprising due to the cruel nature of the play. Polonius is an older man who forgets what he is saying in the middle of a sentence and absolutely cannot come to a point quickly. Hamlet calls him a "great baby," and Rosencrantz says that when men grow old, they mentally become children. After Polonius is killed, Hamlet refers to removing the body from room as "{lugging} the guts." Since the body has been stabbed, the reader can assume that Hamlet is making light of the bloody, most likely disemboweled corpse. First Polonius is mocked because of his age; then Hamlet returns to him dark humor.

The most prevalent form of macabre humor is Hamlet's way of trivializing death. He makes many jokes about this . When he describes how a king could be digested by a beggar, one could envision Claudius cringing. Along with the image of death, Hamlet uses the word "progress," which indicates a royal journey. He taunts the king and death at the same time. Later during the graveyard scene, he asks Yorick's skull: "Quite chapfall'n?" He is asking if the skull is down in the mouth or depressed, which is a sick question to ask of a long dead cranium.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"An Analytical Essay on Comic Relief in Hamlet." 20 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Shakespeare 's Use Of Humor Serves Multiple Purposes Beyond Simple Comic Relief

- ... Shakespeare also uses his humor with regards to the characterization of Polonius. During their interaction in the halls of Elsinore, Polonius says “Brevity is the soul of wit,” which is ironic considering he often speaks in very long, somewhat unintelligible stretches (“Wit”). This helps to establish Polonius’ trait of being a very contradictory character, not only in his actions, but also in his speech. Even the likes of minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern aren’t immune to Shakespeare’s use of humor....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet]

Research Papers
1189 words (3.4 pages)

Comic Relief Of Hamlet Essay

- A Portrayal of Humor Within the Tragedy of Hamlet How does humor factor into a tragedy. Shakespeare knew the answer to this question and acted upon it quite frequently. Shakespeare has been known to write comedies and tragedies both but this does not qualify him at to not incorporate a little of each into each other. In the work of Hamlet there are many occasions where Shakespeare uses it for different effects. The main reason for the presence of humor within a tragedy is to keep the reader interested....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1394 words (4 pages)

An Analytical Essay on the Humor in Hamlet

- An Analytical Essay on the Humor in Hamlet   Humor was added to Hamlet by two major scenes, along with Hamlet's use of his antic-disposition. These two were: the scene between Hamlet and Polonius in the library, and the scene with the grave diggers (the clowns).   The scene between Hamlet and Polonius took place in Act II Scene 2. In Hamlet's first encounter with Polonius, he immediately insulted the old man by calling him a "fishmonger". He then quickly changed his opinion and complemented Polonius by calling him an honest man....   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Free Essays
756 words (2.2 pages)

An Analytical Essay on the Duality of Man in Hamlet

- An Analytical Essay on the Duality of Man in Hamlet   Day after day on television, in the movies, and even in some modern literature we see characters falling within those same old categories of "good guy" or "bad guy".  Life would be much easier to figure out if human beings were so definitely good or bad, but we're not.  Four hundred years ago William Shakespeare wrote a play that presented characters how human beings truly are, neither all good nor all bad.  Hamlet is a play twisting and turning so much in human emotion that at times it almost seems to come alive and give us an accurate depiction of inner-torment, death, and humanness....   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Free Essays
1086 words (3.1 pages)

An Analytical Essay on the Significance of the Players in Hamlet

- An Analytical Essay on the Significance of the Players in Hamlet     The significance of the players exceeds the sole purpose of entertainment, as each possesses the power to unveil the "occulted guilt" (3.2.75) and conscience of the King.  Hamlet assumes the responsibility to advise these players with precise and adequate direction so that a "whirlwind of passion" (6) may not effectively separate Claudius from personally identifying with the play.  Hamlet's enthusiastic approach toward direction may be so that he encourages the players to "suit the action to the word, the word to the/ action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not/ the modesty of nature" (16-18).  However, t...   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Free Essays
648 words (1.9 pages)

Comic Relief in William Shakespeare’s A Midnight’s Summer Dream Essays

- One of William Shakespeare’s best remembered plays for its comical and ironic tone is A Midnight’s Summer Dream. There were characters designed to be humorous and that alone. Puck and Bottom behave very much alike, and have similar roles for different people. Both Puck and Bottom are comic relief characters in one way or the other. Both of them are needed for the play, because Puck’s spirits controls the whole story, which sets the tone for it, and Bottoms comic relief for the audience and play....   [tags: A Midnight’s Summer Dream]

Research Papers
1292 words (3.7 pages)

An Analytical Essay on the Double-edged Sword in Hamlet

- An Analytical Essay on the Double-edged Sword in Hamlet             Hamlet's tale is a tragic one because it presents a man who is in the center of a moral dilemma. It is difficult enough for a man to face what is making him angry even under normal circumstances. Hamlet's circumstances are certainly not normal.             Hamlet's dilemma, whether or not he should kill the king, is compounded by three things. He is extremely angry and hurt over the murder of his father. He cannot express that anger to others because in his position it would be political suicide....   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Free Essays
540 words (1.5 pages)

Free King Lear Essays: Comic Relief

- Comic Relief in King Lear Combining the antics of a circus with the pomp of a royal court is a difficult task indeed. William Shakespeare's genius came from how closely he intertwined the two seemingly mutually exclusive realms to appeal to all socioeconomic groups in his audience. In King Lear, Edgar's appearance as Tom of Bedlam, Lear's insanity, and Lear's Fool provide the comic relief which slices the dramatic tension. Among these, Lear's Fool provides the closest intercourse of the two realms of royalty and tomfoolery while still maintaining their separation....   [tags: King Lear essays]

Free Essays
483 words (1.4 pages)

An Analytical Essay on Hamlet as Ghost Story, Detective Story and Revenge Story

- An Analytical Essay on Hamlet as Ghost Story, Detective Story and Revenge Story   William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, is a ghost story, a detective story and a revenge story all within one plot. Throughout the play, qualities of all three types of stories are displayed. The ghost story consists of Hamlet Senior and the circumstances surrounding his untimely demise at the hands of the present King, Claudius. He is being tortured in hell until his death is properly avenged. The detective aspect of Hamlet is brought about by Hamlet trying to figure out whether or not his fathers ghost was real and also to what, if any extent, his mother the "virtuous" Queen Gertrude was involved with the mur...   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Free Essays
693 words (2 pages)

The Foils of Hamlet Essay

- The Foils of Hamlet Hamlet is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in excess of the facts as they appear.... We should have to understand things which Shakespeare did not understand himself." T.S. Eliot (Hamlet and His Problems) In the play Hamlet [Titles] by William Shakespeare the cast of main characters use the support given to them by the foils to enhance the play. A foil is a minor character who by simulations [?] and differences reveals character, and who, as an element of plot, is there for the more important character to talk to (vevra [sic] )....   [tags: Hamlet]

Free Essays
881 words (2.5 pages)

Related Searches

This obsession with the dead originates with Hamlet's inability to accept his father's death and his own suicidal tendencies.


Due to the deception he is facing, Hamlet also make some cruel comments about the way that women change their appearances to attract men. He displays this in front of Ophelia. He is redirecting his disgust from his mother to her. When she tries to speak with him, he gives her a speech on the evils of woman. Her chief fault, according to Hamlet, is changing her appearance and actions. He describes how a woman will paint her face, behave ridiculously, and pretend to be simple-minded to explain her actions. During the graveyard scene, he reiterates his point by informing the skull: "let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come." No matter how talented a woman is at making herself beautiful, she will eventually become as the putrid skull that Hamlet holds. The moldering flesh of deception finally rots away to reveal the truth.


Throughout the time that Hamlet is pretending to be mad, his jokes reveal what he is really feeling. They show the bitterness and sorrow that Hamlet is enduring, and they show that he is angry that his family is succeeding with their deceptions. He is hiding behind the illusion of madness and the screen of his jests. Hamlet is impassioned, and through his humor, the reader knows how dark life seems for him.
Return to