2016 Student Research Conference:
29th Annual Student Research Conference

Puns, Irony, and Wordplay: Exploring the Complex Use of Language in Hamlet
Blake Goodman
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

The play, Hamlet, abounds with puns, irony, and wordplay, rhetorical strategies that underscore Hamlet's tension throughout. Visible in almost every scene are moments when Hamlet's use of language hints at and thus emphasizes the duplicity of his uncle Claudius. For example, as critics point out, the pun between pray and prey in Act I Scene 5 highlights Hamlet's moral dilemma, in that, he would rather "pray" and not "prey" on Claudius. It is noteworthy that though Hamlet has the "perfect" moment to kill Claudius, he rejects doing so because Claudius is in the act of praying. This essay will evaluate how the puns, irony, and wordplay in Hamlet convey wit and can be seen as offering comic relief to the audience, for example, as seen especially in the graveyard scene.

Keywords: puns, play within a play, Hamlet , Irony

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: -4
Location: VH 1010
Time: 1:45

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