Does comedy serve merely to relieve the tension of the tragedy, or do the comic scenes serve serious thematic aim as well?
In my opinion, comedy serves to relieve tension within the words spoke to each other along with facial expressions and body language. An example would be when Hamlet’s mother told him he “Speaks with an idle tongue” and Hamlet’s response was “You speak with a wicked tongue.”
So in that instance, it relieves Hamlet’s hurt. Comedy also serves a thematic purpose as well. When you have comedy intertwined with tragedy it helps engage the audience with better understanding.
A look inside Hamlet’s comedic dark humor would be when he approaches Claudius and says “A little more than kin, and less than kind.” Meaning that Claudius was once his uncle and now married to his mother. And Hamlet was having a hard time coming to terms with his mother’s marriage.
Where comedy serves a thematic purpose is when Hamlet performs his play The Mouse Trap. The purpose of this play was to collect evidence of Claudius’ guilt.
Hamlet and his attempt to act crazy towards Ophelia might have been an attempt to see how others would react. Hamlet could have been using this act of craziness to distract others away from his real intentions. Or maybe his act of going mad was actually what it was, going mad. But even Polonious had his doubts about Hamlet’s act of going crazy. He started to think that Hamlet’s act of madness was methodically planned.
Hamlet’s work showed the many personalities a person can express. Relieving tension in the play was necessary to give the audience or reader two ways to perceive the information at that moment. The use of comedy serving as a thematic purpose aesthetically pleases the audience and readers, to more involve themselves in the story or play.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Hamlet.” SparkNotes.com, SparkNotes LLC, 2007, www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/hamlet/.
Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, an Ideal Prince, and Other Essays in Shakespearean Interpretation: Hamlet. Hardpress Publishing, 2012.