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Hamlet and the Brevity of Wit

April 14, 2008

I have been reading Hamlet recently.  First off, it is a great story.  Very well written.  One of the amazing things about reading Shakespeare is how many of our English language proverbs are in there.

I recently learned again from Hamlet that “Brevity is the soul of wit”, which I did not realize was in there.  However, another thing I didn’t realize is that the most pompous, blustery character in the play is the one who SAYS it.  In fact, Polonous says the phrase “brevity is the soul of wit” to indicate that he is going to come right out and say what he means to tell the king and queen of Denmark, and then proceeds to plod along for about 30 lines of monologue before getting to the point of his conversation.  He is even interrupted by the queen twice: once to tell him to “hurry up”, and the other to guess at his point, which Polonous refuses to let her do – he continues on for another few lines before connecting all of his dots.

I knew Shakespeare had a sense of humor, but this is very well done.  It is little wonder Shakespeare is still read and performed today.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 14, 2008 5:45 pm

    yes… Shakespeare pretty much rocks.
    that’s true – the shorter, the pithier.
    and “even a fool is thought wise if he keeps quiet”, “when words are many, sin is not absent”, “if a man can bridle his toungue, he has mastery over his entire body” – wisdom to KISS (keep it short, …)

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