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Transcript of Hamlet's Language
Taylor Willis and Jessica Baker
Thesis: Hamlet uses the power of words and rhetoric devices to create a sense of reality. It also allows us to see more clearly that Hamlet's wit keeps his sanity during his feigned madness.
Verbal Irony - also known as sarcasm, an incongruity between what one says and what one means.
"Ay, madam, it is common" (I.II. 74).
Hamlet repeats what his mother tells him, but with a sarcastic meaning.
She tells him death is common and to get over it.
The situation is quite the opposite however, having an uncle marry your mother does not occur every day.
Conclusion: Hamlet makes it quite evident to the audience that his madness show never breaks him down, as often suspected. Hamlet knows exactly what he is saying, and even uses it to his advantage as a way to cover up his anger and insults towards everyone.
Pun- A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
Double entendre- A word or phrase open to two interpretations, one of which is usually risque or indecent (double meaning, innuendo).
"A little more than kin, and less than kind" (I.ii.65).
Hamlet's response to Claudius' explanation of their relation. Also, his first words in the play.
Claudius says that Hamlet is both a cousin and a son.
"Kin" is family. Hamlet says that his relationship with Claudius is more than 'family', which is true because of his marriage to Hamlet's mother, making him both an uncle and step-father to Hamlet.
Double meaning is put on the word 'kind'
Although Hamlet and Claudius are now more closely related, it doesn't mean that Hamlet naturally feels any closer to Claudius.
Hamlet probably also meant that Claudius' face- value is low; He is simply not a kind person.
"Words, words, words" (II.ii.191).
Hamlet hates Polonius, so Hamlet is most likely being sarcastic in this passage as he responds to Polonius' question about what he is reading.
Fact is: words are the most basic component of writing. So Hamlet is truthful.
Hamlet attempts to get under Polonius' skin, but he reacts as a proper gentleman, further questioning Hamlet on his book.
"mother you have my father much offended" (III.iv.9).
Hamlets reply after his mother tells him that he as offended his father (Claudius), following the accusing dumb-show.
Hamlet refers to his actual father, Old Hamlet here, and his mothers recent marriage to his brother.
This is a dagger towards Gertrude as Hamlet uses his "madness" as a cover to speak his angered thoughts towards his mother.
"...and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as adders fang'd" (III.iv.204-205).
Referring to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet shows that he is not naive, and can see through the plans they have with the King.
He does not trust his old friends, and found their presence at random, staying on his toes around them and trusting them as much as he'd trust a snake.
"Not so, my lord, I am too much in the sun" (I.ii.67).
Double meaning on 'sun'
When Claudius uses a weather analogy to describe Hamlet's behavior, Hamlet fires one back at him.
Claudius refers to Hamlet as his 'son' too often for his liking, frustrated, he covers up his anger in this pun.
"Call me what instrument you will, though you fret me, you cannot play upon me" (III.ii.355-356).
Instrument analogy, at times, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern believe that they understand Hamlet and have all the information they need for the king, they fail to realize the layers and complexity of Hamlet as a person.
Other times, they are fearful that they don't know enough, especially after Hamlet kills Polonius. In other words, they 'fret' him.
Hamlet indirectly tells the two old friends that they have no control over him and that they can not 'play' him or his life as though it were an instrument.
"Lady, shall I lie in your lap?" (III.i.106-107)
Hamlet asks Ophelia (whom he still loves).
Clear sexual meaning, he isn't naive, he is almost teasing Ophelia here.
Hamlet denies the meaning behind it, although the innuendo is obvious.
"Upon mine honour--"
"Then came each actor on his ass--" (II.ii.385)
When Polonius tells Hamlet the actors have arrived, Hamlet dismissed the information.
Ass is a donkey (actors arrived on donkeys) .
When Polonius tells Hamlet that they come on his honor, Hamlet cuts him off, stating this line,
Ass is a donkey (actors arrived on donkeys).
Thus, Polonius's honor is an actor's ass. Offensive intentions.
"Excellent well. You are a fishmonger" (II.ii.174).
Hamlets response to Polonious asking if Hamlet can identify him
He tells him he is a fishmonger
Pun on the word, fishmonger is a career
Hamlet implies that Polonius is selling a bait of falsehood, which he is.
This tells us that Hamlet isn't crazy, he actually just enjoys making fun of people, usually without their notice. He is actually extremely clever, not particularly insane.
"It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge" (III.ii.239).
Hamlet to Ophelia (his indecent tendencies are already quite obvious).
It will make you cry, probably in a sexual kind of way, to take off Hamlets edge (his sexual desires).
Also play on "edge", Ophelia tells him he is sharp (keen).
To take off an edge would make him not-so-sharp.
Hamlet uses his madness as a confidence booster to mask his desires and intentions with Ophelia, she, of course, sees through it all.
"Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be not you ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means" (III.ii.137-139
Response to Ophelia asking if someone will tell the audience what the dumbshow means.
Hamlet's indecency is evident in his response, taking the word show in a teasing sense.
Possibly implying that Ophelia should put on a "show".