Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Who is Osric, and why is he included in the play Hamlet in Act 5?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Osric is undoubtedly a foolish fop, but his mission is extremely serious. He has been sent there to invite Hamlet to have a fencing match with Laertes, who we already know is colluding with King Claudius to kill Hamlet either with a poisoned foil or, if that should fail for any reason, then with a poisoned drink. There is an extremely sinister plan in progress. Evidently it is Claudius who has commissioned Osric to extend the invitation to Hamlet, and it will be Osric who will act as referee of the match. The King is well aware that Osric is a weak, comical character. He will make the audience laugh when Hamlet makes fun of him. The wily King deliberately chooses an emissary who seems funny, stupid, and ineffectual just because this will help to disguise the ulterior purpose of the proposed fencing match. Hamlet thinks this is just going to be amusement. He might be suspicious of the King, but he is not suspicious of Laertes. He doesn't know how the devilish Claudius has gotten to young...

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