Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Subscribe

  • Meta

Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit

Posted by Admin on July 9, 2010

We all know that jokes and funny stories seem so much funnier when they don’t drag on and on before getting to the punch line.  Even Shakespeare knew that!

In his play, Hamlet, you’ll find the expression, “brevity is the soul of wit.”  Polonius speaks the well-known line but the fact of the matter is that Polonius is one of the least brief and least witty talkers around. 

This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

 Throughout the play, Polonius doles out quite a bit of advice to anyone who crosses his path.  What makes this all the funnier while being tragic at the same time is that he doesn’t follow any of his own advice.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: