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"brevity is the soul of wit"
Irony
Act 2,
Scene 2
Lines 86-95a

A discussion of the proverbial phrase, “brevity is the soul of wit,” in Act 2, Scene 2 of myShakespeare’s Hamlet.

Polonius

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.

Sound familiar? This is one of many Shakespeare’s phrases that have become proverbial. The irony here is of course that Polonius is being anything but brief.