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Brevity is the Soul of Wit | Essay | Meaning & Expansion of Proverb

December 17, 2017 0 Comment


‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ is a very famous proverb of Shakespeare. It first appeared in the drama of ‘Hamlet’ which gained worldwide recognition. It is a dialogue of the character Polonius in Hamlet.

This proverb is a gift of Shakespeare to Indian Literature. But the proverb has been said to be used long before Shakespeare originated as a prominent script writer.

Yet this proverb was first recorded by Shakespeare only in his book hamlet. This proverb is also very famous and is used in a sarcastic, satirical and a general way as well.  

This proverb has many different meanings to it. The first one interprets the meaning of the proverb as it is. This explanation says that clarity and conciseness is the soul or the backbone of any piece of writing or speaking. It describes the importance of sticking to the point.

Beating about the bush takes you nowhere and leaves you tent hanging. A detailed and a complex method of delivering your thoughts and messages do not let the communication of messages to happen properly.

The receiver is not able to understand the complexly structured messages and hence you are not able to communicate the intended text properly.

Also, deviating from your message and not being clear cut about it constructs a very haphazard and a messy image. It shows that the person is not organized and is not capable enough to describe properly what he means.  

In the corporate world, the ability to put out concise messages is a pre-requisite to gain success. The one who does not know how to use language and communication to his advantages is shunned out of the system and termed inefficient and incompetent.

Messages should be passed out in a very clear manner and orders should be given straight forward to the person concerned. There should be absolutely no vagaries and room for doubts in the concerned message. In organization, the work needs to be accurate and speedy. For that to occur the work should be undertaken in a very rapid manner so that there is no delay in the output. 

This proverb is also concerned with the literature work. Shakespeare through this proverb wants to gives advice to the others writers to write aptly and concisely. Long sentences and bombastic words are not preferred now. Instead of that short and apt sentences are used to convey the messages.

Also long sentences confuse the readers. The readers at times get caught up in the meanings of the sentences. So as to grasp meanings correctly and at one glance, one needs to write in a language that is lucid and easy to read. What a few words can speak; can never be detailed in long sentences.

Long sentences cannot connect to the coincidences directly but short sentences do connect with the audiences as the audience finds these sentences easier to understand. So that the receivers can comprehend easily and give positive feedback, one needs to put out his thoughts in a way that the audience can understand. 

Nowadays, politicians also use this proverb as a base of their speeches. Politicians have to communicate with large number of people at a time. The people who are being heard by politicians are from varying socio-economic backgrounds.

Some of these belong to rich classes, middle class while some of them belong to poor strata of the society. The makers of the speeches of the politicians have to ensure that the speech is understood by one and all present there. For this, they construct short, ironic and humorous sentences, so that the audiences remain engaged.

One very important aspect of their speeches is that they try to make it ironical and humorous. They make the use of satires, metaphors and other literary devices. They talk in a language understood by all so that their views and opinions are heard by all.  

The other interpretation of the meaning of the proverb is that a standup comedian or a man who is presenting some kind of comedy should keep it hilarious, crisp and clear. He should crack jokes that engage the interest of the audience or else they may turn towards someone else.

Again, the text should be presented in a way that it appeals the audience. The audience should not get bored and they should feel that they spent their money on a good night, full of jokes. A funny speech should be short. Else, the flavor and crispiness of the tone of author is lost.   

 Life today is fast moving and moves at the light of speed. The world travels miles in just a flick of seconds. Every second, a child takes birth, a person dies and a change happens. Because change is the law of nature. Without change, we cannot move onto a better prospective.

In all this hustle and bustle, nobody has the time to read long and complex sentences and then comprehend their meaning. Everybody is too busy to do that. Thus text presented in a crisp and clear manner is always appreciated.  

A message delivered in few words will always impact the receivers mind more strongly than a message delivered in many words. Both Hindi and English literature has seen many poets who make the use of conciseness. They use it to deliver larger than life messages.

‘Dohas’ and ‘Chands’ were used by great writers like Kabir, Tulsidas and Rahim. They used them to bring forward some messages which taught the whole world the art of living. Similarly, English writers used ‘Sonnets’ to put forth their viewpoint which is magically woven in a thread of a few words. 

At last, I would like to conclude by saying that we should all swear by ‘Less words, more messages’. This way we can communicate with the audiences in a better way.

A small packet, big blast, is always more appreciated than a ‘big packet, small blast’. Let loose and describe your inner feelings without any complications. For the brevity is a virtue to be reckoned with in all spheres of life.  

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