Dramatic irony is used in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in several instances. The first example is the rumor about the King’s death caused by a snake’s bite. Claudius spreads the lie that Hamlet’s father died because of the snake’s poison, but only the readers and Hamlet know that it was Claudius who poisoned him. This creates dramatic irony as the audience is aware of the truth while the other characters believe in the false rumor.
Hamlet’s pretense of madness also creates dramatic irony. To hide his plan for revenge, Hamlet makes Claudius believe that he is insane. However, his friends and the readers know that he is pretending, creating an irony where the audience knows something that the characters do not.
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In Act 2, Ophelia tells her father Polonius that Hamlet behaves strangely. Polonius concludes that Hamlet’s madness is caused by the “ecstasy of love” after Ophelia rejected his love. Only the readers know that Hamlet is pretending to be mad, creating dramatic irony.
The use of dramatic irony in the play helps to evoke strong emotions in the readers and create suspense, making them more engaged in the story. It also adds complexity to the play and makes it more than just a simple revenge tragedy.
Overall, the play uses irony to distance itself from being a pure tragedy. Even Hamlet’s desire for justice is satirized, as he misses several chances to kill Claudius, including one where he decides not to kill him during his prayer out of fear of sending him to heaven.
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