What is the significance of the character Osric in the novel Hamlet?

Osric is one of the minor characters in the novel Hamlet by Shakespeare published in 1601. The only useful function of his character in the play is to present a contrast through his ridiculous behavior to hamlet’s serious and dignified conduct. He represents a contrast through his ridiculous behaviour to Hamlet’s serious and dignified conduct.

Therefore, he is treated by the readers and the directors of the play as a clown who provides comic relief in the play. Shakespeare is the master of character representation, he gives important role to even his smallest characters. However, the attention that Shakespeare bestows upon his character, he suggests that He had much more than in his mind. He is surely not meant to be a comic relief in the play, instead, the gravediggers are the one who provide comic pleasure in the play either through their own interaction with each other or with Hamlet.   

Osric performs no function in the play rather than proposal of a wager (an action that Shakespeare could easily have assigned to any other unimportant character). He appears in one of the most important scenes in the play, in on important scenes in the play, in an important moment, and is shown interacting at some length with the play’s most important character. The attention then that Shakespeare lavishes upon Osric is not without a larger purpose but, question arises then that, where does lie the significance of the character of osric?

He lends a certain lightness of time to the play’s last sombre moments and presents a contrast to the protagonist himself. Apart from this, Osric by his presence lends a sharper focus to some of the major themes of the play. He signifies the hollow courtier which is one philosophical strand in the thought- pattern of the play, and of which Claudius is the most important icon in the play.      

Osric stands for the emptiness of the youth and its predilection for the pointless pursuing of current fashions in dress, conduct and behavior.

Hamlet alludes to a lack of balance between the individual merit and reward, Osric is a perfect example of it. He is a double- dealing hypocrite, who has scrupulous disregard for everything that could stand in his way of “advancement”.

Osric, like Laetrtes is a stooge and a pawn, and a weapon in the hands of Claudius. He is  the source of dread and tension -as he sets out to encourage Hamlet to lay a wager as much as he is the source of immediate comic  pleasure. our sense of the impending disaster does not allow us to treat  him merely as a source of comic relief more than comic relief or comic pleasure he provides what has been describe as comic tension.


3 thoughts on “What is the significance of the character Osric in the novel Hamlet?

  1. Priti 8 Jul 2022 / 7:00 am

    Beautiful article on Osric I really didn’t know anything about it thanks for sharing 😊👍

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s