What are three incidents of dramatic irony in acts 1 and 2 of Hamlet?Who are the characters involved, do they feel sympathy or antipathy, what are reasons and evidence to support each? :)

Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning Shakespeare's Hamlet, I'll tell you what constitutes dramatic irony in the first two acts of the play, and let you do the specifics.  You need to be the one studying the particular scenes and discovering the characters, sympathy, antipathy, etc.

In the first two acts, dramatic irony is created by the Ghost's telling Hamlet that his father was murdered by Claudius, and by Hamlet deciding to put on an act and pretend he is "mad." 

From this point on, the audience and Hamlet know, or at least strongly suspect, that Claudius killed King Hamlet, and that Hamlet is only pretending to be mad.  Thus, dramatic irony is created any time other characters try to figure out what's bothering Hamlet, wonder why he is upset with Claudius or Gertrude, wonder why Hamlet is acting mad, or when they try to spy on him.  The audience knows something the other characters don't--that's dramatic irony. 

To give you one concrete example, when Polonius speculates that Hamlet is acting strangely because Ophelia has withdrawn her affections from him, the audience knows what Polonius doesn't--that's dramatic irony.  The audience knows the whole story.  Hamlet is acting mad and is behaving as he does as part of his plan:  presumably, to figuratively disarm Claudius, and not let Claudius know that he is really planning revenge. 

You can basically pick your characters and scenes:  Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Ros. and Guil. are all involved in scenes that result in dramatic irony in which Hamlet, as well as the audience, know the whole situation, and the other characters do not.