Act 5, Scene 1

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Hamlet ponders the nature of death before challenging Laertes to a duel.

Summary

In the graveyard at Elsinore, Hamlet and Horatio come upon two gravediggers, one of whom sings while he works. The gravediggers are debating whether the person for whom they are digging the grave committed suicide. Observing them, Hamlet ponders all the different skulls in the graveyard, wondering who they once belonged to. Picking one up, Hamlet learns that it once belonged to Yorick, who was the court jester at Elsinore when Hamlet was a boy. Hamlet remembers him fondly, and he laments the fact that someone who was once funny and joyful has simply turned into a skull in a graveyard. His musings are interrupted by the entrance of Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, and a whole host of attendants. It’s Ophelia’s funeral. Hamlet watches from afar until Laertes jumps in the grave, begging to be buried with his sister. Hamlet leaps in with him and challenges Laertes to a duel.

 

Character Interviews: Hamlet & the Gravediggers

MyShakespeare | Hamlet 5.1 Interview with Hamlet and the Gravediggers