home contact

Introduction to Osric

From Hamlet. Eds. F. A. Purcell and L. M. Somers.

Osric is a representative of the showy and fashionable courtier of Elizabeth's reign, rather than a type of Danish society. His wealth and territorial possessions secure him a position at court, -- "he hath much land, and fertile" -- his slender intellectual equipment leads him to ape the latest fashion set by a few brilliant spirits, scholars, and litterati (Lyly and his fellow-Euphuists); but, like all imitators and converts, he goes farther than his models, whose purpose he misunderstands. He mistakes extravagance and absurdity of diction for wit, ridiculous formality for true politeness and courtliness, and affectation for originality:

Thus has he (and many more of the same breed, that, I know, the drossy age dotes on) only got the tune of the time, and outward habit of encounter; a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions; and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out. -- V. ii. 198.
He is superficial and shallow, forward and insincere. He either fails to see or pretends not to see that he is a mark for the contempt of Horatio and a butt for the satire and mimicry of Hamlet. From the dying words of Laertes we may infer that Osric was a party to the final treachery against Hamlet,
Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric;
I am justly killed with mine own treachery. -- V. ii. 326,
a confession he receives without betraying any mark of astonishment.

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Eds. F. A. Purcell and L. M. Somers. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1916. Shakespeare Online. 2 Aug. 2013. < >.


More Resources

 Pronunciation of Osric
 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?
 Shakespeare's Parents
 Shakespeare's Birth
 Shakespeare's Siblings

 Shakespeare's Education
 Shakespeare the Actor
 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

More to Explore

 Hamlet: The Complete Play with Explanatory Notes
 Introduction to Hamlet
 The Hamlet and Ophelia Subplot
 The Norway Subplot in Hamlet

 Analysis of the Characters in Hamlet
 Hamlet Plot Summary with Key Passages
 Deception in Hamlet
 Hamlet: Problem Play and Revenge Tragedy

 The Purpose of The Murder of Gonzago
 The Dumb-Show: Why Hamlet Reveals his Knowledge to Claudius
 The Elder Hamlet: The Kingship of Hamlet's Father
 Hamlet's Relationship with the Ghost

 Philological Examination Questions on Hamlet
 Quotations from Hamlet (with commentary)
 Hamlet Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Hamlet: Q & A


Did You Know? ... "The poet was throughout his life greatly indebted to the patronage and support of royal and noble personages; his royal patrons were Queen Elizabeth and King James I, both of whom greatly loved the drama. The virgin queen devoted herself to the study of the ancient classical period; she also delighted in our own theatrical entertainments, and used her influence in the progress of the English drama, and fostered the inimitable genius of Shakespeare." Henry Brown. Read on...


 Soliloquy Analysis: O this too too... (1.2)
Soliloquy Analysis: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!... (2.2)
Soliloquy Analysis: To be, or not to be... (3.1)
Soliloquy Analysis: Tis now the very witching time of night... (3.2)
Soliloquy Analysis: Now might I do it pat... (3.3)
Soliloquy Analysis: How all occasions do inform against me... (4.4)

Ophelia's Burial and Christian Rituals
 The Baker's Daughter: Ophelia's Nursery Rhymes
 Hamlet as National Hero
 Claudius and the Condition of Denmark

 In Secret Conference: The Meeting Between Claudius and Laertes
 O Jephthah - Toying with Polonius
 The Death of Polonius and its Impact on Hamlet's Character
 Blank Verse and Diction in Shakespeare's Hamlet

 Hamlet's Silence
 An Excuse for Doing Nothing: Hamlet's Delay
 Foul Deeds Will Rise: Hamlet and Divine Justice
 Defending Claudius - The Charges Against the King
 Shakespeare's Fools: The Grave-Diggers in Hamlet

 Hamlet's Humor: The Wit of Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark
 All About Yorick
 Hamlet's Melancholy: The Transformation of the Prince
 Hamlet's Antic Disposition: Is Hamlet's Madness Real?

 The Significance of the Ghost in Armor
 The Significance of Ophelia's Flowers
 Ophelia and Laertes
 Mistrusted Love: Ophelia and Polonius

 Divine Providence in Hamlet
 What is Tragic Irony?
 Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Sources for Hamlet

 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Influence on Other Writers