Hamlet Acts I & II – The Benefits of Dramatic Irony
Dramatic irony is undoubtedly one of the most powerful methods to maintain a readers interest towards a story. Shakespeare’s Hamlet, uses this tool in the very beginning of the play through the incident in which Hamlet comes in contact with his father in the form of a ghost, to not only develop Hamlet’s character but also the significant theme of revenge is carried out throughout the play.
When the readers are first introduced to Hamlet, the impression given off is of a weary and depressed son. Hamlets first soliloquy reveals that he wishes that “this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew”(1.1.333-344) Hamlets grief over his father’s death mirrors his love for him ...view middle of the document...
4.759). The king proceeds on to say that if he were allowed he “could a tale unfold whose lightest word/Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood” (1.5.751-752). Hamlet, who is not usually at a loss for words, is horrified to hear about the terrible suffering his father, whom he believed to have been a good man and a good king is suffering. This, Hamlet, deeply affected by this encounter, takes on the challenge of avenging his father. The readers watch Hamlet’s character transition from a grieving son with no purpose to a man who is out to seek revenge.
At this point, only Hamlet and the readers know about this disreputable murder and so this sudden active involvement and expectation from the readers helps heighten the intensity of suspense and conflict that is arises from this plot twist. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony through this incident not only to keep the audience involved and enthralled with the story, but also to give his theme more depth and relevance within the play.
The theme that is highlighted from this incident is revenge. After the terrible introduction, Hamlets love for his father is yet again underlined as he becomes determined to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”(1.5.27-28). This incident is where this obsession with revenge takes birth, and so for the readers to have knowledge of this before other characters makes it even more intense. The readers are also completely drawn to Hamlet’s character as they cannot help but sympathize with this son who has had his father taken in the most remorseful manner.
All in all, Shakespeare’s tool of dramatic irony during the encounter of Hamlet and his fathers ghost proved to be effective in terms of developing Hamlets character as well as the level suspense and conflict in the scene.