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In Hamlet, what are some specific examples of dramatic irony to show revenge isn't...

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abbyjane17 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 7, 2012 at 7:37 AM via web

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In Hamlet, what are some specific examples of dramatic irony to show revenge isn't always the best option?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM (Answer #1)

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Well, one of the best examples to look at would be in Act III scene 4, where Polonius hides himself behind the arras so that he can witness the conversation that Hamlet has with Gertrude. This is dramatic irony because we know that the person behind the arras is Polonius, whereas unfortunately, Hamlet does not. Therefore, when he hears Polonius cry for help, he thinks that it is actually Claudius, and believes that he is killing Claudius. His disappointment and shock when he sees the dead body of Polonius instead indicates that clearly revenge is not the best option in this situation. Note the words that Hamlet says to Polonius once he has discovered the identity of the man he has just killed:

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune;
Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.
Leave wringing of your hands...

Hamlet is forced to realise that his desire for revenge has led him to kill an innocent and not kill the man that he has been trying to kill.

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