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Commentary. The passage takes place in Act 5 Scene 1 of Hamlet written by William Shakespeare. The portion of the scene takes place inside a graveyard, in the middle of the night.

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Introduction

The passage takes place in Act 5 Scene 1 of Hamlet written by William Shakespeare. The portion of the scene takes place inside a graveyard, in the middle of the night. The characters present are Hamlet, his friend and advisor Horatio, and a gravedigger, identified as the Clown. Hamlet and Horatio are watching a gravedigger empty a grave of its bodies, most likely to replace it with another body. Hamlet reflects on what the lives of these dead souls were like, and how disgraceful it is for the gravedigger to treat people like this. Eventually, he is completely jarred by the Clown's insensitivity and disrespect towards death, and he confronts him. The two engage in witty, morbid banter. When Hamlet is informed late in the scene that one of the skulls belonged to the beloved court jester, Yorick, he breaks down, and reflects on death and its affect on himself. His experiences with death have not been positive, for example, with the passing of his father. The passage is structured as a dialogue, first between Horatio and Hamlet, and then between Hamlet and the Clown. Occasionally, Hamlet lapses into a monologue-like passage, in that he rants and raves while Horatio and the Clown listen. The mood and atmosphere of the passage is dark and morbid. ...read more.

Middle

As well, the banter between Hamlet and the Clown had undertones of dark humour. From lines 60 to 75, the counter back and forth, questioning whose grave the Clown was standing in. The Clown said it was his; "You lie out on't sir, and therefore it is not yours: for my part, I do not lie in't, and yet it is mine." (62-63) After some time, Hamlet himself gets fed up with the wittiness of the Clown; he is not used to be countered in this way, as because of his stature, he generally is never talked to in such a way. Hamlet states, "We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us," (77-78) which is ironic because he himself equivocates quite frequently, like Polonius and other courtiers. Again, another instance of irony is when Hamlet again masks his identity. He carries on a conversation with the Clown about himself and his whereabouts. Though the Clown appears to believe he is well informed in regards to the Prince, he does not realize he is talking to him. He humorously states that Hamlet recovering his wits in England does not matter; "there the men are as mad as he." (94-95) Diction is a major contributor to the revealing of character and plot. ...read more.

Conclusion

From talk of "pocky corses" (104) to "a fellow of infinite jest" (123), the progression to a more pure and loving side of Hamlet is revealed. There are many staging opportunities available with this scene, because of the flexibility and vagueness of the stage directions. The throwing of the skulls, as well as the positioning of the actors can be put in to question. The depth of the grave the Clown is standing in would make a big impact. As well, if Horatio and Hamlet are standing directly over the grave, and therefore directly over the Clown, it displays their higher status, as if they are talking down to him. Hamlet, progressively bending closer and closer to the ground could symbolize him equalling himself to the Clown, as well as progressively getting closer to death, and his own grave. When Hamlet is holding the skull of the jester, the actor perhaps, could be holding it gently, to symbolize his love for the deceased Yorick. In conclusion, this passage from Act 5 Scene 1 is the last scene of comedy in the play. Hamlet's character is revealed more, as we see his moral code in regards to respecting the dead. As well, the reader sees his softer side, and a glimpse of his old life through his descriptions of Yorick, the jester. Through mood, atmosphere, imagery, diction, antithesis and staging opportunities, the characters of Hamlet and the Clown are revealed. ...read more.

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