Charles Lamb's punning relates closely to his art as an essayist. He conceives the pun as a social trope, which generates and celebrates fellowship, requiring an active reader to "get" it, ideally in a live context. It is also a democratic trope, part of shared play in the "Cockney" circle, resisting Addison's polite proscription of vulgar language habits. Lamb's puns can, moreover, give vent to political critique and to class-based and sexual energies that would otherwise be difficult to express. They allow disinhibition, and the potentially "uncivil" life of the mind, to gain a momentary ascendancy. Lamb anticipates Freud in analysing the liberating badness that the jokework of the pun allows. His puns point toward a technique prevalent in the Elia essays, of hinting that what does not signify also oversignifies: there is a gap between the apparent and real emotional subject of discourse that the simultaneously frivolous and freighted pun embodies.