The Cynical Humor of Hamlet
A horrible event, such as a death in the family, can cause a cynical outlook on life. “Hamlets' hubris is shown through his cynical humor towards others” (Adelman 164). Hamlet uses humor to escape his cynical reality in regards to Polonius, Ophelia's father, Ophelia his true love, and Gertrude, his mother the queen. These three people help lead Hamlet to his eventual downfall.
Hamlet's conversation with Polonius is a good example of the Prince's cynical humor. For example, Hamlet asks Polonius if he is an honest man. Polonius is taken off guard:
" Honest my lord? Ay sir. To be honest, as this world, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand." (II; ii; 177-178)
Hamlet's humor suggest that there are no honest men in this world, and his cynicism shows that if there are any, there are only one in ten thousand. The irony is that Polonius agrees, letting us in on how he views honest people. Another example of his cynicism is when hamlet says to Polonius: "Let her not walk i'd' sun. Conception is a blessing, but as your daughter may conceive, friend look to't." (II; ii; 185-186) This shows Hamlet's fast ability to play on words. The word "sun" has two meanings. It can be used as the sun, referring to his cynicism towards Claudius. Ophelia is like the sun and if she falls near the King, he will be a bad influence on her. It can also be looked as the "son". The son of Ophelia will be crazy because its father, Hamlet is crazy. He is beginning to show the antic deposition act. Both conversations with Polonius show that Hamlet's humor brings out the truth in the people around him.
Ophelia, Hamlet's true love starts to see the new Hamlet, the crazy Hamlet. He plays with her mind, by throwing out double meanings that are confusing, yet they have meaning to it. "Ha ha! Are you honest? Are you fair?" (III, i, 103-105) Hamlet could mean honesty in the meaning of being truthful and faithful in love, or virginal. He then asks if she is fair. Fair in beauty, or fair in his love. Both these questions arise confusion with...