The Significance of Foppish Characters in Hamlet
An examination of the importance of foppish characters in Shakespeare’s `Hamlet`.
The paper notes that at first, the role of foppish characters in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” appears to be a trivial one; the paper then provides an examination of the human need for laughter to shed light on the importance of these clownish personalities. The paper defines laughter, considers its physical and psychological benefits, and determines when it is needed. The paper shows how considering the body’s need for laughter to maintain physical and psychological stability, it is plain that foppish characters provide comic relief that is essential throughout `Hamlet`. The paper demonstrates how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Polonius, Osric and the gravediggers are thus instrumental in the tragedy’s success.
“First, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the king’s and queen’s compliant attendants, supply sporadic amusement not so much by their own folly as by Hamlet’s facetious exploitation of their acquiescent demeanors. Although Rosencrantz recognizes that Hamlet jests at his expense, neither he nor Guildenstern has the chutzpah to reproach the exalted prince of Denmark. In one scene, the servants are sent to pry out of Hamlet the location of Polonius’ body. Hamlet inquires of Rosencrantz, “… to be demanded of a sponge! what replication should be made by the son of a king?” (IV, ii, 14-16) The indignant henchman replies, “Take you me for a sponge, my lord?” (17-18) Hamlet then proceeds to humorously explain the similarities between the esteemed courtier and a sponge.”